It’s been a busy week in which I didn’t get many opportunities to write, so here’s a wrap-up of Lawpsyc stories that made headlines:
Since the last time I checked in here, the guy who shot his co-workers at a California quarry was shot and killed by police. Then just days later, another gunman, apparently enraged by an ongoing court battle for custody of his son, burst into a California hair salon and murdered his ex-wife and seven other people. He’s now going to be fighting a custody battle of a whole different kind as he sits in custody facing multiple murder charges.
The search continues for a missing baby in Kansas City, and with every day that goes by, it’s looking more and more like a Casey Anthony situation to me. Sadly, the Anthony coverage was almost a course in what to do/say and what not to do/say if a parent intentionally or accidentally killed a baby and wanted to try to cover it up. In this case, the parents’ story is that a stranger broke into the home in the middle of the night through a window while the father was working the night shift and abducted the baby as the mother slept. Is it possible? Yes, but statistically, it’s highly improbable. That’s me to the left talking about it this week from home with the local news media (who’ve been doing a great job with the eyes of the world on them, as has local law enforcement), and I’ll be on the Nancy Grace show tonight talking about it as well (no, I won’t be doing any dancing).
Casey Anthony Deposition:
Speaking of Casey Anthony, she finally gave a deposition in the civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Zanaida Gonzalez, the woman whose name Anthony reported as the name of the fictitious “nanny” who supposedly ran off with Anthony’s deceased daughter Caylee. Surprise, surprise, instead of giving substantive answers, Anthony repeatedly refused to answer on Fifth Amendment grounds (the right not to incriminate herself). I expect the judge in the case to order Anthony to answer the questions, however, because she’s no longer in any criminal jeopardy, which means that the Fifth Amendment doesn’t apply, so we can probably look forward to round two of this deposition.
“Battered Woman” Acquitted:
And speaking of travesty trials, a female murder defendant in New York has been acquitted based on a “battered woman syndrome” defense. Yes, there was evidence that her husband had beaten her, so no, I’m not shedding any tears over his death, however, she didn’t murder him while he was beating her — she didn’t even murder him while he was coming toward her in a threatening manner. In those cases, there’d be a legitimate self-defense argument to be made. In this woman’s case, she shot the guy 11 times while he was in a bathroom shaving, then claimed that because of “battered woman syndrome,” she couldn’t be expected to have figured out that she had any other option (like calling 911, like fleeing the home, like filing for divorce, etc.). A jury actually bought it (sounds like they bussed the Anthony jury up to New York for this one!). Well, I don’t. I think it’s a bogus defense, totally unsupported by sound psychological data. I hate wife beaters, but the remedy for that isn’t allowing a battered wife to be her husband’s judge, jury, and executioner. Now that’s crazy. The wife? I haven’t examined her, but I doubt that she was (crazy, when she pulled the trigger, 11 times).
“Underwear Bomber” Trial:
Just when we were all set to sit through days of rambling anti-American diatribes from the self-represented “underwear bomber” (the guy who tried to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden down his pants) during his terrorism trial this week, he thought better of it and changed his plea to guilty. Good riddance.
CT Home Invasion Trial:
The second defendant has been convicted of capital murder in that gruesome home invasion case in Connecticut (the one in which the wife and daughters were sexually assaulted and murdered and the house was set on fire and only the father escaped death). The penalty phase of the trial will come later this month, and defense attorneys are expected to argue that the defendant was sexually abused as a child, which I think jurors should consider utterly meaningless in a case like this. Something horrific happened (maybe) to the defendant as a kid. If that happened, it’s sad, but so what? Should that buy the defendant leniency when he does something horrific to multiple other people, including kids? No, it shouldn’t.
Conrad Murray Trial:
California prosecutors appear to be winding up their manslaughter case against the late singer Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, with a series of expert witnesses testifying about the medical impropriety of dosing someone with the powerful tranquilizers used on Jackson, particularly as treatment for insomnia, and particularly in a private home instead of a hospital. As one who serves frequently as an expert assessor of alleged physician misconduct, I’m eager to hear what defense experts could possibly say in the days ahead to try to justify Murray’s behavior in this case.
Less Teen Sex (Maybe):
A new study suggests that a trend toward sexual activity at regressive ages may be reversing in America. New data indicate that the age at which American teens are becoming sexually active has actually risen in the past couple of years. The same study also found that when teens do become sexually active, they’re more likely to use condoms than they were in the past. Hopefully these findings are accurate, for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that procreating outside of wedlock is one of the leading causes of poverty in this country, right up there with substance abuse, both of which are far better correlated with poverty than anything that happens in Washington or on Wall Street. This might be a good time to reiterate “Dr. Brian’s guaranteed prescription for staying out of poverty.” The prescription involves just four very easy steps. Rx: 1) Stay in school, 2) don’t commit any crimes, 3) don’t get addicted to anything, and 4) don’t make a baby unless you’re married to the person with whom you’re making the baby. That’s it. It’s not hard. It’s easy. If you’re a young American, and you do those four simple things, the statistical chance of you living below the poverty line in your adult life is infinitesimal (really, really, really, really small), regardless of what goes on in Washington or on Wall Street.
“Ashton & Demi”?:
To end the week on an inspirational note, I saw an article this week entitled, “What’s Going on with Ashton & Demi?” (referring to actor Ashton Kutcher and actress Demi Moore, who are married but reportedly may be having problems). When I see an article like that, here’s what goes through my mind: I couldn’t care less what’s going on with “Ashton & Demi.” What I wonder is: What’s going on with members of the general public who actually do care what’s going on with “Ashton & Demi”? Seems to me like the answer is: “Not much.” So, my wish is that everyone who reads this has far more meaningful things to do and people to see this coming autumn weekend than rummaging through “celebritrash,” and if not, this might be a great time to “turn over a new leaf.” Have a great weekend!