Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is this going too far? or is this justice?

An unusual case, that's for sure.

A Philadelphia-area DA has not ruled out pressing murder charges against William J. Barnes after the coroner ruled the death of a 64-year old stemmed from complications of a shooting....41 years ago. The somewhat ridiculous story can be found here.

I guess I have to defer to professional judgement here, but it seems extremely dubious to me that anyone can possibly draw a connection between a shooting 41 years ago and a death today. There is one particular exception, however. I think if the bullet remained in the victim, then there is potential for the bullet's subsequent movement around the body to cause further damage. If perhaps the bullet had lodged itself in his spine (probable since the man had become a paraplegic), then perhaps his death could have been caused by the bullet nicking the axon of a crucial neuron. Or maybe it compressed a coronary artery and caused a blood clot.

Regardless, you also get to an interesting double jeopardy question. The article is not clear, but if Barnes had served time for attempted murder then maybe you could say he could not be convicted of a contradictory crime (under the argument that he couldn't have committed the murder since he had already been convicted of failing to commit the murder).

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