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Commonwealth v. Markman
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
916 A.2d 586 (2007)
Beth Ann Markman (defendant) was in a relationship with William Housman. Housman began an affair with Leslie White. One evening, Markman and Housman drove to a convenience store, where Housman used a pay phone to lure White to Markman’s trailer under false pretenses. When White arrived at the trailer, Markman was in the bedroom. Markman emerged after hearing White cry out and began assisting Housman with binding and gagging White. Housman and Markman then went outside to smoke a cigarette and discuss what to do. When they returned, Markman went to the kitchen to get White some water. Housman began strangling White and ordered Markman to adjust White’s gag. Markman complied and made no attempt to stop Housman. White was strangled to death. Housman and Markman were charged with first-degree murder. At trial, Markman asserted a duress defense based on evidence that she had been physically abused by Housman. For two days prior to the murder, Housman had cut Markman’s clothes off with a knife, repeatedly raped her, and threatened her at gunpoint if she did not do as instructed. Markman testified that she was unaware that Housman was planning to call White at the convenience store and that she subsequently tried to escape the trailer twice but was caught by Housman each time. Markman stated that she complied with Housman’s orders the evening of the murder because she was afraid that he would kill her otherwise. The Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas refused to instruct the jury on the defense of duress. The jury found Markman and Housman guilty of first-degree murder. Markman appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Saylor, J.)
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