A is a 35-year-old man. As a child, A suffered severe emotional abuse, mostly from his father, who made fun of him for the large birthmark on his face. A was also reared to believe that a certain minority group, the X people, were subhuman. He was indoctrinated into a hate group from a young age. Various psychological experts will testify that A’s past has not given rise to a mental disorder.
Two months ago, the hate group chose A to assassinate a well-known politician, B, who is of the X people. After two months of planning, A arrives at an event where B is speaking. There, he shoots B, instantly killing her. As A attempts to flee, D successfully tackles A. While D moves to subdue A, onlooker E begins ridiculing A’s birthmark. In response, A goes berserk, kills D, and then flees without striking E. D was not of the X people.
At trial, A testifies to his mental state when he killed B and D, respectively. According to his testimony, he killed B because she was of the X people, whose political stances were destroying American values. A explains that he killed D because E’s making fun of his birthmark “completely freaked [him] out.” A then testifies as to his severe childhood abuse, after which he says, “I didn’t even look at D. I was so freaked out that I lost control.”
In a Model Penal Code (MPC) jurisdiction, A is charged with homicide for killing B and D. Assume that the prosecution can prove the above facts at A’s trial. Assume further that A purposely killed B and D, which amounts to murder under the MPC, and that A does not have a valid insanity defense or a valid defense of self-defense.
- Should A’s liability for murder be mitigated to the lesser crime of manslaughter? Explain, analyzing each homicide separately, applying only the MPC, and analyzing no other issue that may be raised by these facts.
Should A’s liability for murder be mitigated to the lesser crime of manslaughter? Explain, analyzing each homicide separately, applying only the MPC, and analyzing no other issue that may be raised by these facts.