A Bizarre Legal Case
As introduction, I would like you to think about your answer to the following question: If someone is shot and killed by a gun, does it matter who put the bullets into said gun? Just think about it. Because in the next couple hundreds of words, you might change your mind back and forth multiple times (I know I did).
It all happened on March 23, 1994. A medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and confirmed that the man had died from a shotgun wound to the head. While he was shot, Opus was in the process of jumping from the top of a ten-story building with the intention to commit suicide. He left a note to the effect indicating his feelings. As he fell past the ninth floor of the building, his life was interrupted by a shotgun bullet passing through a window, which immediately killed him. However, neither the shooter nor Opus knew that a safety net had been put in just below the eighth floor level to keep some building workers safe. Basically, Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned that day.
“Ordinarily,” stated Dr. Don Harper Mills, American Academy of Forensic Science President, “A person, who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide.” Because Opus was shot on the way to his own intended death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, allowed the medical examiner to feel as though he had a homicide on his hands.
So, you must be curious. Who shot this man? Why did the shooter kill Opus? Was it intended or an accident? Well, the room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast occurred, was owned by an older man and his wife. The couple was violently arguing with each other. The man began to threaten his wife with his shotgun. The man was so upset and angry that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, causing the pellets to go through the window, toward Opus.
Think about it. When a person intends to kill one thing, but kills another thing in the attempt, said person is still guilty of the murder of the other thing.
When confronted with the murder charge the old man and his wife refused. In fact, both said that they believed that the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said it was a long standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. Talk about a great relationship. He had no intention to actually murder her. Therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, if the gun had been accidentally loaded.
The continuing investigation found a witness who saw the older couple’s son loading the shotgun about six weeks before this fatal accident. After more digging for information, police found that the older woman had cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing that his father frequently threatening the mother with the empty shotgun (again, great relationship…), loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would unintentionally shoot his mother. Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn’t actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.
Personally, I don’t know how I feel about this. What matters more, who loaded the gun, or who shot the gun?
Okay, get ready to become mindblown. Here is the even bigger twist.
Further investigation found that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. Do you know what this means? The man who wanted to commit suicide, was the same man who put the bullets in his father’s gun. What a coincidence, you might think… maybe not though.
Opus, the son of the older couple, had been trying to get his father to unintentionally kill his mother because she cut off his financial support. However, it was apparently taking too long to happen for Opus. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window. The son had actually murdered himself, so the medical examiner closed the case as suicide.
What I find interesting is the fact that Opus choice his parents’ building to jump off of.
What do you think? Did Opus technically murder himself?