The orphan defense

I can’t help but comment on a California trial that ended a couple of days ago, where a nanny was found guilty of murder for running down two kids while driving her gold Mercedes after taking at least eight pain pills and, apparently, a fair amount of alcoholic liquid refreshment.

Then fleeing from the scene and hiding out for two days before coming back. And mouthing off about how this accident might be bad for her career as a nanny.

All of which is very sad, but not the point of this entry.

I was struck by a key defense argument–apparently the key defense argument, since there was no question at all that she ran the kids down (jumping a curb at 30mph to do so, as I remember), or that she fled the scene.

The argument was that she couldn’t be found guilty of murder (as opposed to accidental death) based on her being drunk or high–because there was no toxological report.

There was no toxological report because she fled the scene for two days.

It’s a variant on “the orphan defense”–why you shouldn’t convict a child who kills his parents of murder because, after all, the child is an orphan. “Always flee from an accident if you’re drunk, because then they can’t get you for drunk driving.” What a principle!

The jury wasn’t buying it. It took them less than four hours to return a guilty verdict. Note that this was a California jury, for what that’s worth.

Sorry for the downer Friday post. Maybe I’ll do something more upbeat and “relevant” later…

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