Life and Death > Courtroom Confusion

Murder, or not?


John has an argument with his pregnant live-in girlfriend Marsha. He shoves her and leaves the apartment for a bar to drink away his anger. Unknown to him Marsha hits her head on the refrigerator. She does not lose consciousness, but is dazed. A few minutes later while trying to walk to the other room she falls down the stairs and dies.

Question - Would a prosecutor, knowing all the circumstances of this case, consider it murder?

Dave Freas:
Hey, Bob

It depends.  Did his shove cause her to hit her head on the refrigerator?  Or did she bang her head against it after he left.

If his shove did it, I would think he would be charged with murder, because his shoving her led to her death even though she died minutes after he shoved her.  And a hardcore prosecutor would charge him with 2 counts of murder - one for his girlfriend and one for their child.

Forensics may play a role in whether he is charged.  The autopsy would reveal where her head hit the refrigerator.  And there may be bruising where he grabbed her or his palms hit her when he shoved her.  For example, if bruises on her arms indicate he grabbed them while facing her (or bruises on her chest show he shoved her from the front, driving her backwards), but the point of impact was her forehead, then it's unlikely his shoving her caused the injury that led to her death.

Hope this helps.



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