Earlier this year, a very unusual murder trial was heard in the
Victorian Supreme Court. The events unfolded when two men got into
a fight and struggled over a gun. The gun went off and one of the
men was shot in the head. The survivor claimed that that shot was
fired by accident.
The victim collapsed on the floor and the surviving man saw the
body twitch and jerk. The record of the police interview with the
surviving man sets out what happened next.
Q: All right. And what happened after that?
A: Well, I couldn't – I didn't know what to do so
– yeah, I didn't want the bloke suffering so I shot him
again, yeah, 'cause he wasn't dead. Yeah.
Q: And so what happened then?
A: I don't know. I went and looked at his room and found some
more bullets, and I shot him again, yeah, to stop him from
Q: Yeah. So when you shot him that second time you said that that
was so that he wouldn't suffer.
A: 'Cause I wasn't sure if he was alive or dead.
Did the victim die after the first shot was fired?
The surviving man was charged with murder. However, at his
trial, medical evidence suggested the twitching and jerking could
have been the victim's body making involuntary responses. In
other words, he may have already been dead when the defendant shot
him a second and third time. Can you murder someone who is already
Both prosecution and defence lawyers said they had never
encountered such a strange murder case, and could find no legal
precedent to draw on.
However, the jury still had to decide whether the accused was
guilty or not guilty of murder.
case a - The case for the defence
case b - The case for the prosecution
The first shot killed the victim
The victim's death was an accident
The defendant could not be guilty of murder, manslaughter or
attempted murder for firing the second and third shots because the
victim was already dead
Firing the second and third shots was an extremely poor
decision, but it was not murder
Even if the first shot was accidental, when the defendant fired
the second and third shots, he believed that the victim was still
alive and acted to kill him
The offender deserved a significant jail term, as he clearly
intended to kill the victim
So, which case won? Cast your judgment below to find out
The recent sight of a politician trying to make a citizen's arrest during a television interview raises legal questions.
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