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Medical Question

awnlee jawking

It's a dark and stormy night! A scrawny nerd comes across a woman being raped by a muscle-bound hulk. Knowing that if he doesn't completely incapacitate the hulk he's unlike to survive the subsequent altercation, the nerd smashes the back of the hulk's head with a brick.

Hulk dies.

And the medical question is: how quickly will the hulk's penis detumesce?

AJ

graybyrd

@awnlee jawking

Considering that upon death ( a messy business! ) the muscles totally relax, the bladder and urethra relax and the sphincter muscles relax--thus causing the dying body to both piss and shit itself: I'd assume that the tumescence would follow in relaxation.

--OR-- in simpler terms, just in time for the nerd to pull the dying hulk to one side and take its place.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

Dumb question, but why aim for the head? A strike with a brick to the back would definitely get his attention, stop the attack, and still give the guy the chance to flee before he could rise to his feet and give chase. Instead, his actions in choosing to strike his head (a smaller target requiring to approach much closer, negating his 'fear of attack' argument, virtually guarantees a conviction of pre-planned murder, rather a dismissal for self-defense.

Frankly, I can't conceive of a valid justification for that decision short of their knowing each other previously, which makes the murder conviction a slam-dunk for the presecutors.

I think this plot point constitutes a significant Plot Hole!

Replies:   REP  Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

he's unlike to survive the subsequent altercation,


Slam the brick into the spine at the top of the shoulder blades, easier to hit, and the guy is a paraplegic or quadriplegic - not problems at all.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

I object to the objections by CW and EB. If your nerd is a medical student, or a writer of fiction who could reasonably be expected to have researched such things, THEN go for the spine. Otherwise, let him go for something he knows will incapacitate the rapist.
Do not look into self-defense when you research the nerd's legal status, look at prevention of a felony likely to cause death or serious injury to another.
If his intention was to use a flat side of the brick to be certain of disabling him, and hopefully not cause death, definitely no legal problem.
Then apply common sense - he was scared shitless.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

If your nerd is a medical student


Doesn't need to be a med student. When I was in school in the 1960s there was a major government accident safety TV advertisement program about not moving people after an accident due to worries about a damaged spine because it was so easy to fracture. It even went on about using towels and newspapers to support the head of an accident victim until professional help arrived via the ambulance crew.

That made it clear how vulnerable the spine was. Then a bunch of films showing guards being killed by being hit on the back of the neck sealed the deal on the vulnerability of the spine.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@graybyrd

Eek, I hadn't thought of that! I think those details might get omitted from the story.

As to the nerd taking the place of the hulk, in the story that actually happens several years down the line.

Thank you,

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

Doesn't need to be a med student

Humour AGAIN. I deliberately left list of those who would know ridiculously incomplete, to highlight the fact that few others think like the bunch of nerds that inhabit SoL forums ... with all due respect.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Humour AGAIN.


sorry, but at 1 a.m. subtle humour just slides right by like a supersonic jet

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Eek, I hadn't thought of that! I think those details might get omitted from the story.

I think a better idea/story-focus, is to take a less potentially fatal approach (throwing a brick without aiming simply to distract the guy, while fearing a potential repercussion, and then making it an accidentally fatal blow the guy couldn't have predicted (an essential point if the story involves criminal charges).

That's why I labeled it as a plot hole. The action denotes a motivation it sounds like you weren't intending for your character, and including it will leave the story open to attack and a 'WTF' moment for readers as they stop reading to figure out why the character would do such a thing.

As far as the medical issue, I'm not sure. It's complicated, as many corpses get erections after death, while others will, as noted, shit, piss and fart themselves shortly after death. In short, you really can't predict what any singular body might respond. However, to clarify whichever position you take in the story, I'd have the coroner make a general comment about personal variability to the cop/lawyer/detective/whoever.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


how quickly will the hulk's penis detumesce?


Make him a paraplegic and it should go down immediately with the body moving blood around to deal with the trauma of the blow. Kill him by wiping out the brain it it may stay up for a while, not sure.

If Hulk's death is a plot requirement he can always die from complications a little later, say the medics slip and drop the stretcher while carrying him to the ambulance.

Replies:   REP
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

...but at 1 a.m...

AND, I just can't stop myself. I did choose Ross at Play as my pen name for a reason.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Ross at Play as my pen name for a reason.


You mean a Pen name isn't the name you get given in the state pen? dang.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

You mean a Pen name isn't the name you get given in the state pen?

For nerds, the names they get given in the state pen are pet names.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

When aroused, your brain sends signals to the nerves in your penis that opens up the blood vessels allowing more blood which expands the spongy tissues inside. That causes an erection. When your brain stops sending the signal, the blood vessels go back to their normal size and the erection goes down. So if you're dead, your brain can't be sending the signals to keep the blood vessels open so the erection should go down pretty quickly. That's my guess.

Capt Zapp

@Switch Blayde

When aroused, your brain sends signals ...


Unfortunately, as we get older, our comm lines tend to deteriorate. Lately, it seems my signal gets through about as well as dial-up internet on a partyline. :(

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Capt Zapp

Unfortunately, as we get older,


It's common knowledge (verified by experience) that the mind is the second thing to go.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

When your brain stops sending the signal, the blood vessels go back to their normal size and the erection goes down. So if you're dead, your brain can't be sending the signals to keep the blood vessels open so the erection should go down pretty quickly. That's my guess.

Talk to any mortician, or anyone who's ever driven a hearse for one, and they'll tell you that erections on corpses (who had none when they died) aren't uncommon at all. Nor are farting corpses, though they try to keep them from the public showings of the body for appearances sake.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Crumbly Writer

Talk to any mortician, or anyone who's ever driven a hearse for one, and they'll tell you that erections on corpses (who had none when they died) aren't uncommon at all.

Although it can happen, it is extremely rare.
Yes, some males will get an erection as they die- although it is usually a sign of a sudden and violent death. It frequently occurs with hangings and apparently it can also occur with fatal blows to the back of the head.
Post mortem rigour mortis is where all the bodies' muscles stiffen. If the body is in an upright position, and blood is still pooling due to gravity, then when the muscles in the penis constrict, as the blood pools there an erection can result.
But as the build up of blood is due to gravity, not the heart pumping blood in there, it would not be like a normal erection. More of a softy than a stiffy.

Grant
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

When aroused, your brain sends signals to the nerves in your penis that opens up the blood vessels allowing more blood which expands the spongy tissues inside.


Actually the blood vessels in the penis constrict, so the blood being pumped in there can't easily exit & an erection results.

The reason you want to get a long lasting erection (Priapism) checked out is that otherwise due to the reduced blood flow and therefore reduce oxygen supply tissue there can start dying. This is not good.

EDIT- there is a version of high blood flow Priapism where the erection is a result of increased blood flow, but that is a result of physical damage to the artery supplying blood to the Penis.

Crumbly Writer

@Grant

Thanks, Grant. I knew post-mortem erections occur, but never quite understood the process (though I've long understood the warnings for Viagra are actually carefully worded cautions about potential penis amputations!!! That kinda takes all the fun out of four-hour erections.

Switch Blayde

@Grant

Actually the blood vessels in the penis constrict, so the blood being pumped in there can't easily exit & an erection results.


I looked it up on WebMD. It's both. The arteries relax and open up to allow more blood to flow in and the veins constrict to keep it there.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I looked it up on WebMD. It's both. The arteries relax and open up to allow more blood to flow in and the veins constrict to keep it there.

The question isn't how normal erections occur. I'm assuming most of us have been boys long enough to realize how the basic mechanism works. Instead, the question is what happens after death, and why do post-mortem erections occur, and just how common they are? Note: All the reports I've heard of this phenomenon occur during handling and carrying corpses, so 'blood pooling' (like at the scene of a crime or at the location of death) wouldn't necessarily apply (assuming it's been kept in a morgue for some time).

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

the question is what happens after death, and why do post-mortem erections occur,


The question wasn't post mortem erections. It was what happens to the erection at the time of death.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
REP

@Crumbly Writer

virtually guarantees a conviction of pre-planned murder, rather a dismissal for self-defense.


From my recollection of the law in CA, killing someone who is in the process of harming another person is not pre-planned murder

REP

@Ernest Bywater

it may stay up for a while, not sure


An erection occurs and is maintained by blood pressure. Stop the heart and the blood pressure drops to zero. No pressure, no erection.

Ross at Play

@REP

in the process of harming another person

YES, but to be more precise, I think the requirement for justified homicide is felony likely to cause death or serious injury.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Nevertheless I found the answer interesting. Although I posed the question in a peri-mortem scenario, the fact that erections can occur post-mortem, albeit rarely, means that whatever I choose to include in my story won't necessarily be wrong.

AJ

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@awnlee jawking

Expanding on the medical element.
If the deceased had an erection due to Viagra / Cialis where it was caused by artificial means, then presumably the muscles wouldn't release as rapidly on death and the erection would be maintained?
It may be worth checking on that aspect.
It is easy to imagine a rapist taking a pill before looking for a victim.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@REP


From my recollection of the law in CA, killing someone who is in the process of harming another person is not pre-planned murder


No, it's not an unlimited right. You can defend yourself, or someone else, but there's a 'reasonable expectations' exception to self-defense. In this case, taking a brick to someone's head would likely be seen being beyond what's necessary to defend yourself. A brick to the back, which unintentionally paralyzes someone would qualify, but a blow to the head--an intent to not disarm but to kill someone--would seem like premeditation, not an act of desperation. If the character knew the perp, and had a history of conflicts with him, would be viewed as evidence he was looking for an opportunity to get back at him, and used the rape as a pretext for murder.

Remember, the head is fairly difficult to hit, especially if someone is moving. You've got to get very close--negating the 'afraid for my life' argument, and it goes beyond 'stopping the threat [to the victim]'.

They may very well get off--especially in a 'jury of his peers', say an all-white jury where the person killed was black, but their actions would he highly scrutinized!

Replies:   REP  Capt Zapp
REP

@ustourist

where it was caused by artificial means, then presumably the muscles wouldn't release as rapidly on death and the erection would be maintained?


When a person dies, all of their muscles relax. Granted there are sometimes muscular twitches for a period until the brain and nervous system are no longer functing.

docholladay

@REP

From my recollection of the law in CA, killing someone who is in the process of harming another person is not pre-planned murder


From personal experience that will not always work. I had a man pull a large kitchen knife (what used to be called a butcher knife) on me. I had no weapons at all, yet I was the one the cops were going to arrest. In fact they went so far as to tell me if anything happened to that man: "You will be arrested". They said it was a result of my record. Funny part was I had never been arrested or charged with any kind of a crime. So what record?

Of course that dumb guy got hurt a couple of weeks later when he was robbed one day as he walked past a dark alley after cashing a large check. I had a perfect alibi, the cops who said they would arrest me saw me having coffee at the same restaurant they took their lunch break at.

The cops figured out what I had done, but how could they prove in court that I was Sober when all the eyewitnesses at the bar said I was drunk. No physical evidence just a theory with eyewitnesses telling a different story. And they do need proof when they arrest someone.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


No, it's not an unlimited right.


I agree with that portion of the paragraph. As to the rest of that paragraph, you are adding content that was not in the original post and addressing the after the fact repercussions.

As to the target, head or spine, the rapist is moving and probably partially dressed which makes hitting a target more difficult. The spine is a very small target compared to the head, so your strike must be very accurate, not only in location, but you must hit at an angle that will dislocate the vertebrae far enough to damage the spinal cord. Not an easy thing to do on a dark and stormy night when the lighting is reduced affecting vision and the musculature of the hulk will act as a deterrent to something less than an all-out strike doing the job.

The legal ramifications are not something that typically goes through your mind under the stated conditions. Initially, the nerd would probably be in the 'fight or flight' mode. Next, would come the 'how do I stop the rape and still survive' decision. I doubt the nerd would think of the repercussions until after he took action.

docholladay

@REP

The legal ramifications are not something that typically goes through your mind under the stated conditions. Initially, the nerd would probably be in the 'fight or flight' mode. Next, would come the 'how do I stop the rape and still survive' decision. I doubt the nerd would think of the repercussions until after he took action.


Definitely the most likely probability. I know how in certain situations a person will ask themselves: "How can I do the most damage with the least risk to myself?" The legal factors will not even be considered at that time.

Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

If the character knew the perp, and had a history of conflicts with him, would be viewed as evidence he was looking for an opportunity to get back at him, and used the rape as a pretext for murder.


How about if the character knew someone (Sister/mother/GF?) that had been raped and murdered or left mentally disabled? Would his attack on the perp be considered premeditated if he had come across the attack and flashed back to what happened to the other victim, causing an 'over-reaction'?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Capt Zapp

Would his attack on the perp be considered premeditated if he had come across the attack and flashed back to what happened to the other victim, causing an 'over-reaction'?


It's not premeditated murder (1st-degree murder) because it wasn't planned. Whether it's 2nd-degree, manslaughter, etc. I'll leave to the lawyers.

But if he killed the person because someone he knew was raped, the likelihood of him being convicted would be greater. He would then have a motive rather than simply trying to protect someone.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Switch Blayde

He would then have a motive rather


Yep, and he could plead temporary insanity.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@REP

Yep, and he could plead temporary insanity.


Only if the jury does not know the real legal definition for both the insanity and temporary insanity pleas. That definition is not the medical or psychiatric definition. It boils down to answering one question: "At the time of the crime, did the defendant know the difference between Right and Wrong?"

Although the way that darn plea has been over used, many might assume it is based on a clinical diagnosis by doctors.

Replies:   REP
REP

@docholladay

Would the legal definition matter, if every time he told the story he said something to the effect of:

I saw someone raping a woman and knew I had to do something to stop him. That is all I recall clearly. I have a very vague recollection of picking something up at rushing the man. After that nothing until I came to and the cops were asking me questions.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay
Updated:

@REP

Loss of memory would definitely mean he could not have known the difference. So according to the legal definition, he would have fit the plea for temporary insanity during the period of time.

edited to add: that does not mean his mind would have stopped working. In fact its possible for it to have made all kinds of calculations based on doing the most damage to the other person involved both with or without damage to himself.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The spine is a very small target compared to the head, so your strike must be very accurate, not only in location, but you must hit at an angle that will dislocate the vertebrae far enough to damage the spinal cord.

That was my original point: that hitting someone in the head with a brick forces you to approach within a position where you can be attacked. A better solution is to simply throw a brick at his back, which would stop him, forcing him to stand. If he chases, you'd have a chance to flee, also giving the victim a chance to escape as well. There's really no reason to kill the guy. Better yet, call the damn police first, then hit him with the brick simply to delay him long enough for the police to arrive.

@DocHolladay

The legal factors will not even be considered at that time.

My point wasn't that the character would consider it, but that it's a potential plot hole, as readers likely will. You can address it after the attack, but the police and prosecutors will likely bring it up.

@Capt Zapp

Would his attack on the perp be considered premeditated if he had come across the attack and flashed back to what happened to the other victim, causing an 'over-reaction'?

It's open to interpretation. If he's white and the person he attacked either black or colored, then there's an excellent chance he'd be let off. However, the cops and prosecutor would likely apply a LOT of heat, and charges are likely, although a conviction largely depends upon how easily swayed a jury is. But again, the issue isn't the character's thoughts, or whether he'd be convicted or not, just that readers will likely question his actions, so the author will want to address those issue at some point in the story, probably either in the after-the-fight cool down period, or when he's questioned by the police.

That's what a plot hole means, it's a problem with the plot which should be addressed somewhere.

@REP

Yep, and he could plead temporary insanity.

Except, temporary insanity is a terrible defense that rarely succeeds. It's mostly used by the obviously guilty in an attempt to avoid the death penalty and garner public sympathy. But it's only selected if there's little chance of any other defense succeeding.

@DocHolladay

Loss of memory would definitely mean he could not have known the difference.

No, memory loss implies he/they suffered from either combat stress or a blow to the brain, but that doesn't impact whether he knew what he was doing at the time or not. That's determined by his actions both before and after the incident. Forgetfulness is more likely their being terrified they'll admit something that actually happened. Instead, mental illness means you couldn't differentiate between right and wrong, or that you could differentiate between reality and delusions, which is extremely difficult to prove!

Replies:   REP  docholladay
REP

@docholladay

Yes. But if I thought I might get in trouble for killing the man and believed I might need an alibi, I would fake not remembering what happened if I was actor enough to pull it off.

Replies:   docholladay
REP

@Crumbly Writer

memory loss implies he/they suffered from either combat stress or a blow to the brain


Emotional and various forms of traumatic shock can also cause loss of memory; or perhaps it would be better to say inability to recall a memory.

docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

No, memory loss implies he/they suffered from either combat stress or a blow to the brain, but that doesn't impact whether he knew what he was doing at the time or not.


I was referring to knowing the difference between Right and Wrong.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
docholladay

@REP

Yes. But if I thought I might get in trouble for killing the man and believed I might need an alibi, I would fake not remembering what happened if I was actor enough to pull it off.


It is possible to remember everything, but to still not be in control of ones actions.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

I was referring to knowing the difference between Right and Wrong.

Which technically doesn't depend on having perfect recall.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

Very true, in fact sometimes having perfect recall might create a series of problems on its own.

Like I wonder how many watching those crime shows like CSI or Forensics really think they show all the things involved in those type cases. I tend to believe they show just enough to trick some people into making mistakes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP
Updated:

@docholladay


It is possible to remember everything, but to still not be in control of ones actions.


I totally agree.

In an extreme, life threatening situation, the person's survival imperative tries to take control of the mind's decision-making function. The logic function, which is normally in control of the decision-making function, resists; but is often unsuccessfully. At that point, the survival imperative's input to the decision-making function may result in low-quality decisions, but the decision-making function sends the necessary commands to cause the rest of the body to respond to the life threatening situation in a specific manner. The logic function may be screaming NO!, but the body executes its commands.

The memory function, which is separate from the decision-making process, records and stores what the body does. Other factors have a bearing on whether the person can retrieve those stored memories. If the memories are retrievably, then the person will decide if he wishes to convey those memories to others or falsely claim that they cannot recall the memories.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Like I wonder how many watching those crime shows like CSI or Forensics really think they show all the things involved in those type cases. I tend to believe they show just enough to trick some people into making mistakes.

Actually, what they do is convince everyone, criminals, the public at large, the legislature and the CSI techs themselves that their science in infallible.

However, their assurtions have been coming under increasing doubt. Their 1-in-100 million is largely invented out of whole cloth, with multiple copies being found out of a small population. Yet, when the detectives announce the CSI proves their guilty, suspects believe them, whether they did it or not.

The key is, when presented with CSI evidence, don't say a thing, and insist your lawyer recruit a reputable scientist with knowledge of actual statistics (something most CSI folk don't seem to possess). With perseverance, you can convince most judges they're full of shit.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Dumb question, but why aim for the head? A strike with a brick to the back would definitely get his attention, stop the attack, and still give the guy the chance to flee before he could rise to his feet and give chase. Instead, his actions in choosing to strike his head (a smaller target requiring to approach much closer, negating his 'fear of attack' argument, virtually guarantees a conviction of pre-planned murder, rather a dismissal for self-defense.


The laws covering justifiable homicide (what is generally referred to as self defense) in most jurisdictions in the US allows for defense of others as well as strict "self" defense.

You might find a few ambitious prosecutors who would charge 1st degree murder in those circumstances, but all the defense would have to do is put the rape victim on the witness stand and you would have a hard time finding a jury that would convict.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The laws covering justifiable homicide (what is generally referred to as self defense) in most jurisdictions in the US allows for defense of others as well as strict "self" defense.

You might find a few ambitious prosecutors who would charge 1st degree murder in those circumstances, but all the defense would have to do is put the rape victim on the witness stand and you would have a hard time finding a jury that would convict.

I'm sorry, but these questions often come down to a question of degree rather than intent. Kicking or pulling a rapist off their victim is justified, as is fighting them. But shooting them in the head is not. Following this logic, using a potentially fatal blow directly to the head (which parenthetically increases the risk of injury to anyone attempting it--negating their 'self-defense' claim), escalates the action from a 'defense of someone else' to a 'crime of opportunity', especially if the two combatants have a prior history of potential animosity against each other. It would then be viewed as a potentially 'premeditated' action (i.e. the victim of bullying has been searching for some way to justify eliminating his bully for once and for all).

Of course, proving this in court might be difficult, depending on how sympathetic the rape victim is: i.e. how well-spoken, white and non-ethnic, she is! If she's Muslim, or black, and the rapist was white, be prepared for a some jail time.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


escalates the action from a 'defense of someone else' to a 'crime of opportunity'


Perhaps, but that only gets you to manslaughter or 2nd degree murder. 1st degree murder (premeditated) requires more than intent to kill in the heat of the moment, the murder must have been planed in advance.


especially if the two combatants have a prior history of potential animosity against each other. It would then be viewed as a potentially 'premeditated' action (i.e. the victim of bullying has been searching for some way to justify eliminating his bully for once and for all)


Perhaps, but you can't get to "premeditated" at all in the absence of such a history.

Even with that history, getting over the "rescuer" snapping in the heat of the moment to premeditation would require specific evidence of premeditation beyond that history.

Something on the order of the the rapist was a serial rapist and frequently used that spot and the "victim" knew this or the rape "victim" was in collusion with the "rescuer" and was deliberately acting as bait.

ETA:

Had the "rescuer" brought a proper weapon to the scene, there might be a better case for premeditation.

As described, with an improvised weapon obtained at the scene, premeditation would be an almost impossible hurdle.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I'm sorry, but these questions often come down to a question of degree rather than intent. Kicking or pulling a rapist off their victim is justified, as is fighting them. But shooting them in the head is not. Following this logic, using a potentially fatal blow directly to the head (which parenthetically increases the risk of injury to anyone attempting it--negating their 'self-defense' claim), escalates the action from a 'defense of someone else' to a 'crime of opportunity', especially if the two combatants have a prior history of potential animosity against each other. It would then be viewed as a potentially 'premeditated' action (i.e. the victim of bullying has been searching for some way to justify eliminating his bully for once and for all).


IANL, but 'crime of opportunity' tends to preclude it being a premeditated act in my book. It is either going to be one or the other, not both.

You might be able to find some exceptions to that(IE. someone intentionally heading for an area where rioting is in progress for the sole purpose of looting vs someone who "happened to be there" when the riot started and got "caught up in the moment"), but you're going to have a hell of a time trying to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt short of a confession or other hard evidence(such as surveillance video showing them entering the area well after rioting started).

Otherwise you're moving into conspiracy charges(working with others to incite a riot for the purpose of being able to loot) or other such things, in which case 'crime of opportunity' moves into an entirely different context. Such as looting a (nearly) dead body instead of killing/fatally wounding someone so you can take their stuff.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'm sorry, but these questions often come down to a question of degree rather than intent. Kicking or pulling a rapist off their victim is justified, as is fighting them. But shooting them in the head is not.


Sorry, but murder is always a question of intent.

Under the law in most US states homicide is a broad category

Justifiable homicide is not a crime at all.

Negligent homicide requires recklessness but no specific intent to harm.

manslaughter (which comes in several degrees) requires specific intent to harm, but not necessarily intent to kill.

2nd degree murder requires specific intent to kill.

1st degree murder (premeditated) requires intent to kill plus advanced(time, not sophistication) planning.

In most US states, the jury can not convict on a lesser charge unless the prosecutor specifically lists lesser included charges on the indictment.

Not doing so is often done as a tactic to try an force a plea bargain. A plea bargain can happen at any time before the jury returns a verdict.

On the circumstances described, absent extraordinary evidence of premeditation, a prosecutor who charges murder 1 with no lesser included charges is going to see the defendant walk even if the jury rejects a justification defense.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Perhaps, but that only gets you to manslaughter or 2nd degree murder. 1st degree murder (premeditated) requires more than intent to kill in the heat of the moment, the murder must have been planed in advance.

True. I was arguing the person had a 'prior motive' to kill, which would make him a suspect, but his suddenly discovering an opportunity makes it merely 2nd-degree, since he didn't plan on the woman being raped by his intended victim.

My main point was that the police and prosecutors are more likely to look askance at defenses that go 'above and beyond' what's necessary to protect either yourself or someone else. As was previously pointed out, a conviction would be rare in those circumstances, but being harassed by the 'fuzz' (flashback to the 70s) is likely, and is worth addressing in the story (my original point). Simply admitting that it's a concern is often enough to quiet complaints. If the police offer doesn't press the point, it becomes a non-issue as long as the author at least addresses it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

True. I was arguing the person had a 'prior motive' to kill, which would make him a suspect, but his suddenly discovering an opportunity makes it merely 2nd-degree, since he didn't plan on the woman being raped by his intended victim.


Sorry, but I think even murder 2 would be a stretch for the case described.

TV and movies frequently portray people getting hit over the head even with things like bricks and getting knocked out but otherwise unharmed.

A guilty verdict has to be unanimous. The defense only has to convince one juror that the "rescuer" only intended to knock the rapist out.

My main point was that the police and prosecutors are more likely to look askance at defenses that go 'above and beyond' what's necessary to protect either yourself or someone else.


I think your view of what police, particularly today's very aggressive heavily militarized police with think is "above and beyond" what's necessary is more than just a tad low.

The average cop, even the average homicide detective is going to see rape victim, dead rapist, and hero. And unless the "hero" has a prior criminal record, they probably won't even bother asking if the hero had a prior relationship with the rapist.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The average cop, even the average homicide detective is going to see rape victim, dead rapist, and hero. And unless the "hero" has a prior criminal record, they probably won't even bother asking if the hero had a prior relationship with the rapist.

Again, I merely flagged it (initially) as a potential plot hole, or something which might stop a few readers in their tracks and which deserves addressing for that issue alone (i.e. address the concern, and then move on rather than focusing on the minor side issue).

madnige

Wes Boyd's 'Stray Kitten', anyone?

'Brief but intense 9mm headaches'

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