The gossip

How to Kill Yourself

Posted on: September 28, 2010

Do you like to read a good murder mystery? Not even
Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess.

This is an unbelievable twist of fate!!!

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic
Science, AAFS President, Dr. Don Harper Mills,
astounded his audience with the legal complications of
a bizarre death.

Here is the story:

On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body
of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a
shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from
the top of a ten-story building intending to commit
suicide. He left a note to the effect indicating his
despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor his life
was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a
window, which killed him instantly. Neither the
shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net
had been installed just below the eighth floor level
to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus
would not have been able to complete his suicide the
way he had planned.

“Ordinarily,” Dr Mills continued, “Someone who sets
out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even
though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is
still defined as committing suicide. “That Mr. Opus
was shot on the way to certain death, but probably
would not have been successful because of the safety
net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a
homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast
emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife.
They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening
her with a shotgun. The man was so upset that when he
pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and
the pellets went through the window striking Mr.Opus .

When one intends to kill subject “A,” but kills
subject “B” in the
attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject “B.”

When confronted with the murder charge the old man and
his wife were both adamant and both said that they
thought the shotgun was not loaded. The old man said
it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with
the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder
her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be
an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been
accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who
saw the old
couple’s son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior
to the fatal
accident.

It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son’s
financial support
and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to
use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the
expectation that his father
would shoot his mother. Since the loader of the gun
was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even
though he didn’t actually pull the trigger.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the
son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist.

Further investigation revealed that the son was, in
fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly
despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer
his mother’s murder. This led him to jump off the
ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by
a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story
window. The son had actually murdered himself so the
medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

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