Saturday, December 3, 2011

Glad I Wasn't On That Jury

We all worry about the danger of a stranger hurting us or our family.  Call them a goblin, mookie, sumdood, or whatever, we worry about the external threat.  We put locks on our doors, acquire tools for protection, and gain skills to effectively use those tools to protect our families.

But what do you do when the threat is from within?

A man in New Hampshire recently pled guilty to killing his wife after finding that she had strangled their children, killing one of them.  The woman had a history of mental illness and may have been under the delusion that her husband and mother-in-law were trying to take the children away from her.  The father came home, found both children strangled by his wife, and beat his wife to death with a flashlight.  He believed that she had killed both children.  He then tried to take his own life, but was awoken the next morning by his daughter, who had survived the attack.

He has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, but if he keeps his nose clean, gets counseling, and completes his education while in prison, he may be free in 10 years.  In the meantime, his son and wife are dead and his daughter will be raised either by family or in a foster home.  Either way, her life has been shattered.  Her brother is dead at the hands of her mother, her mother was killed by her father, and her father is in prison for at least the rest of her childhood.

Like the title says, I would hate to have been on a jury for a case like this.  A man kills his wife after finding his children dead at her hand.  Can a father look at another father who does such a thing and not put himself in his shoes?

Like I said, we all prepare for the external threat, but what do you do about the internal threat?  It's easy to tell an abused woman to jettison the abuser, but what if she truly loves the man?  The father in this case knew that his wife was mentally unstable, but can the human heart cut a part of itself out as easily as one would reject any other kind of poison?

I can honestly say that I don't know how I would handle such a situation.  If my wife was having psychological problems, but hadn't shown any signs of being an overt danger to the rest of the family, what would I do?  Would I try to make sure she was never alone with the children?  Would I try to force them to get treatment, even using the threat of divorce to get them to seek help?  Could I be strong enough to force her out of our home until she had gotten treatment and had her psychological problems under control?

And if the worst happened, and I found that she had harmed the children, how would I react?  Would I be able to keep it together enough to call the police?  Would I snap as this man did and take matters into my own hands?  I honestly don't know.  I hope I never have to find out.

1 comment:

WS4E said...

That is what the charge of manslaughter is for, instead of murder.

"The unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice."

A lesser charge of manslaughter should be been charged by the DA. This DA is an embarrassment.

He should have claimed he flet his life was in danger and that he was next while being in the presense of a known killer.

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