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Leaving scene of homicide

Discussion in 'Other Legal Issues' started by AHutsell, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. AHutsell

    AHutsell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have MANY questions regarding the handling of my mother's accidental homicide case. The shooter was leaving the scene as authorities arrived, unbeknownst to them. Later, he returned and pulled the bullet casing from his pocket, which had been removed from the scene, and handed it to officer. It was bagged locked in the back of the police car, along with the weapon, and submitted as evidence. Where any laws broken with the suspect fleeing with evidence? And is the evidence, which had left the scene, still acceptable as evidence?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    My condolences upon the death of your mother.

    I suggest you contact the victim support agency in the county where mother died.

    You can also contact the district attorney or prosecutor handling the investigation for more details.

    No one but the police or DA know enough to answer your questions.

    However, some of that information will not be disclosed prior to trial.

    As a member of her family, you can also be notified about how to attend the trial, if that is your wish.

    The homicide investigator will also share information with the family, after ascertaining you are who you claim to be.

    That's why I won't say much here, as you might be the perpetrator, or connected to the perpetrator.

    If you are who you claim to be, the people cited above will be happy to share what can be shared without compromising the investigation.
     
  3. AHutsell

    AHutsell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you kindly for your response, and your condolences. The DA made the decision in April 2017 that no charges will be brought. I reached out to a civil lawyer in May, and they seemed helpful at first, but then stopped responding. They emailed on 11th stating:

    "Based on my review, I’m unable to undertake any cause of action on your case.

    Please note that Arkansas has a one (1) year statute of limitations on assault and battery and a three (3) year statute of limitation on wrongful death."

    One year will be Oct 30 2017.
     
  4. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    You can't bring criminal charges, only civil. You could sue him civilly for the death, but not for leaving the scene or taking the casing with him. Who knows why the guy wasn't charged, but perhaps it was to ensure his cooperation with the investigation.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    That is tough thing for me to read, so it must have hurt you deeply.

    Have you visited the lawyer and asked for a further explanation?

    In fact, you might find it therapeutic to write a letter thanking the lawyer for looking into the matter.

    You could then say something to the effect, "Ms. Brown, I was confused by this sentence in your letter: 'Based on my review, I’m unable to undertake any cause of action on your case.'. Would you be so kind as to elaborate so I can better understand what was lacking?"

    Let me know what you learn.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    There could be a number of reasons for that. I'll speculate but only that lawyer can answer the question.

    1 - Unless you were dependent on your mother for support you likely have no cause of action for monetary damages in your own right.

    2 - Unless you opened probate and were appointed representative of the estate you might not be the proper party to engage a lawyer on behalf of your mother's estate.

    3 - And this is the most likely, the perpetrator doesn't have assets to make it worthwhile taking the case on a contingency and there would be no insurance that would pay on behalf of the perpetrator because intentional acts are excluded by personal liability insurance. In other words, the lawyer won't take the case because he doesn't see any payday in return for his efforts and expenses.
     
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Active Member

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    Maybe, but nothing that ought to distract from the homicide case (although you wrote that the DA has determined not to pursue charges) or wrongful death case.

    Evidence of what? Serious question. Who is going to offer the shell casing into evidence and what is that party going to try to prove using the casing? You referred to the person as "the shooter," which may indicate there's no dispute that this person is the person who shot and killed the victim. If that's the case, then the shell casing may or may not have any evidentiary value. Similarly, you told us that this person returned to the scene some unidentified time after leaving and handed the casing to the cop. Presumably, he didn't do this in complete silence, and the words exchanged between the two may be extremely important.

    You can consult with other attorneys about pursuing a wrongful death case, but I agree that items 1 and 3 mentioned in "adjusterjack's" response above will likely pose serious hurdles.
     
  8. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Has this person been arrested and charged? If so with what?

    It's just difficult to imagine someone shooting someone else, looking around for a shell casing immediately afterwards, taking it, then coming back to the scene and turning it in. That is just plain weird and doesn't make much sense.
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    That's the norm around here.
     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The shooter was leaving the scene of the incident unbeknownst to the police.

    The person leaving may have simply been a witness.

    Were there witnesses who observed the foul dead?

    Perhaps it was determined to be an accidental shooting, or some other cause of death?
     
  11. AHutsell

    AHutsell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    He is indeed the shooter, by his admission and two others in the room.

    They were all at a birthday party at another friends house. Mary, who is felon, had brought 2 firearms to the location.

    3 people were in a back bedroom looking at the firearms. Around 10 PM Rick had it in his hands, and said the he was trying to clear it to make sure it was safe for him to look at when it fired.The bullet traveled through a basket, a box and a wall striking Danie in the upper left shoulder. She life flighted to the hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries in surgery around 2 AM.

    She was struggling, but still alive when Rick left, and when he returned from all I could tell.

    I was told by her boyfriend Ted that following the gunshot several other people left the house, some going as far as jumping a fence.

    When authorities responded they secured the location, assisted medics with transport, passed around statement forms and took pictures.

    Rick returned, providing shell casing and relayed his version of events. The investigator later told me that Rick had confided he had approximately 5 beers since his arrival.

    The investigator was a familiar face and sometimes attendee of these monthly birthday parties. He lives 2 streets down from the location.

    Per the police report, drug paraphernalia was found while photographing the scene. Per verbal communication with the investigators, everyone was on drugs. However, he advised that no one was arrested as it was an accidental shooting and everyone's stories corroborated.

    What I was told by Ted does not match what is in the police report. He heavily insinuated that some part of timelime was altered or omitted but didn't ever explain. He is roommate to the shooter, and continued to live with him after the incident.

    No urinalysis or drug tests were completed, no arrests were made.

    DA did not find cause to formally file charges. When asked about Rick leaving the scene, and the felon in possession of a firearm that resulted in death (I for whatever reason that that fit into 'death occurring during commission of a felony') and the lack of testing despite the shooter statement that he was inebriated, he claimed to not have knowledge of these events.

    The only part that is in the police report was Rick leaving the scene.

    6 months following this, the investigator was in an alcohol related wreck and removed from the case.

    Ted, the boyfriend, was found dead from a gunshot wound in woods down from Rick's residence.

    No information was publicly released in either my mothers death or her boyfriends. Both seem as overlooked and underplayed as they are confusing and improbable.

    I have yet to find anyone willing and or able to be of assistance.

    There's a lot of information that is not included in this summary that I'm not even sure is of any relevance.
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I suspected there was merriment of some sort being pursued, and when that occurs, illegal drugs and alcohol seem to be present.

    There is far too much of this that occurs, and too many people die prematurely because of poor choices by others.

    That said, why not talk to a couple private investigators?

    Start looking around and find three that seem capable.

    Then meet with the investigators, and see what you can learn.

    If you dislike all three, look for three more.

    In any situation such as yours, the RIGHT private investigator might be able to obtain the missing pieces that can possibly bring you some enlightenment.

    I know you will not obtain the peace you desire, as only time can do that for you.

    We all know the pain death can bring to others, few know the unbearable pain that the murder of a love done brings.

    For every life taken at the evil devices of a murderer, studies tell us that 150 to 200 people grieve that loss.

    I know that I'd do everything I could to obtain all the facts and facets of who did what if some savage murdered my mother.

    God bless, and I wish you peace, mate.
     
  13. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    Based on the information you provided I can see why homicide charges were not pursued, but other lesser offenses regarding negligence might have been appropriate.
    You may very well have a decent wrongful death suit to pursue in civil court, but the real question is whether the person responsible has any assets worth the time and effort to sue. You need to discuss with an attorney.
     
  14. zddoodah

    zddoodah Active Member

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    Based on that additional information provided, I'm really not sure why the shell casing might have any evidentiary value.

    You can't force the district attorney to file suit. You can sue for wrongful death. However, wrongful death suits are not particularly lucrative if the deceased was not a very high income individual and/or the plaintiff was dependent on the deceased for support. If neither of those things is true, then finding a lawyer to take the case on contingency will be difficult or impossible. It will also be difficult/impossible if the defendant doesn't have the income or assets to satisfy any judgment (as appears to be the case here). Sorry.
     
  15. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    Fine line between a true accident with the gun misfiring and negligence in handling a weapon while possibly inebriated. It does make sense if everyone around gave the same story and the evidence supported it that it really isn't criminal homicide. Attending a party where people are doing drugs and drinking and also playing with guns is in poor judgement, but it happens everyday without any more outcome than a hangover. No one could predict a bullet would travel through a basket, box and wall in the exact spot to strike someone. Sadly, one of them paid dearly for that poor judgement and twist of fate. It also doesn't leave you much recourse. Anything that happened since that fateful night is irrelevant to what happened to your mother. It is also not clear if it really was the shooting that led to her death or some complication or medical condition following surgery. A shot to the shoulder is not typically life threatening. It is truly unfortunate and I hope that you make your peace with what happened, but I would not count on the courts to be part of that process.
     
  16. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    "Misfiring"? What's that?

    Bottom line - the trigger was pulled causing the pistol to fire. Anyone who is intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs should not be handling any type of firearm - that is just looking for big trouble.
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Plus, as I'm sure you know, officer, intoxication won't allow you to wriggle off the prosecutor's rather sharp "felon hook".

    Sober or drunk, you commit homicide; you're going to trial.
     
  18. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Or any other hook! Intoxication is never a defense or justification for committing any type of crime.
     
    army judge likes this.
  19. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If criminals could use that EXCUSE, there'd never be another DUI arrest, but thousands more deaths daily.
     

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