If a manner of death is not
natural, suicidal, accidental, undetermined, or unclassified, then it is homicide, in the
sense of vital statistics. And a homicide is the killing of one human by (1) the
actions or (2) negligent inactions of another human,
whether in criminal or non-criminal ways. There is a spectrum of legally determined
categories within this "homicide" manner of death. See this article as to specific designational terms as to the deceased (such as "parricide"), HERE. From a legal-justice standpoint, (1)
"murder" and (2) "manslaughter" are designations reserved for deaths caused in criminal (laws
were broken) ways by another as part of a (1) malicious act or (2) a non-malicious but
The details making for the degrees of
criminal homicide vary from state to state. But, roughly, (1)
first degree = a calculated act with malice aforethought; (2) second
degree = committed with malice but without premeditation; (3) third
degree = a murder which is not 1st or 2nd degree and/or committed during a felonious
act not listed in the first degree murder felonies (also, "depraved heart murder" is
considered 3rd degree in some places); and (3) manslaughter is unlawful killing without
malice or intent.
"Reckless" means that the accused consciously
disregards & ignores a substantial and unjustifiable risk of an adverse outcome.
"Wanton" means merciless or inhumane. "Depraved-heart" means a callous disregard for human
life...such as just shooting into a passing bus or train.
The below could change according to new judicial
opinions or laws and might vary from state to state. But the information is offered in order
to show how designations tend to be stratified. And, it should become clear that much time
may need to pass from the date of death to the date on which a charge is leveled
against the suspect in order to assign the correct/justifiable charge. The hysterically
emotional public clamor for a rush to arrest & judgment was spectacular in the first
quarter of 2012 case of the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
classification chart first]
To prove "murder", one must demonstrate that the act
of the defendant was done with MALICE in causing the death of another, malice
being of 3 varieties:
- intent to kill;
- intent to do great
bodily harm (but a death occurred); or,
- action reflecting a
wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood/risk that the natural tendency or outcome of the
defendant's act is to cause death or great bodily harm, that is, a depraved-heart/depraved-mind
It is my personal belief
(and many millions of other religious folk worldwide) in the fact that, according
to the Biblical Ten Commandments of God (Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21), no killing (even
the fatal shedding of innocent fetal blood) is exempted by the judicial actions of any legal system
from possible divine consequences (actions or inactions) of such
first degree: depending on the state, this is a deliberate and
premeditated killing (deliberate/premeditated murder); and/or, in some states, killing
in the act of an intentional felony (felony murder). Murder which is perpetrated by
means of poison, lying in wait, or other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or
which is committed in the perpetration, or attempt to perpetrate arson, criminal sexual conduct
in first or third degree, robbery, breaking and entering of a dwelling, larceny of any kind,
extortion, or kidnapping. Murders set up to look like an accident or suicide may fall in this
second degree: a killing unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances
manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. A criminal homicide
constitutes murder of the second degree when it is committed while defendant was engaged as a
principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony.
depraved-heart/depraved mind: (defined) & (see case, below)
third degree: a killing in the heat of passion and/or murder not qualifying as first
or second degree.
- MURDER-suicide: 29 June issue of the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer: On June 28 of 2000, a native Chinese pathology resident, Jian Chen, M. D.,
shot 4 times and killed Dr. Rodger Haggitt, a long-time, internationally renowned,
gastrointestinal pathology teacher, consultant, and friend of ours. This happened in Seattle,
Washington, in Dr. Haggitt's office. It is said that Dr. Haggitt worked with his killer as a
father-figure and professional mentor. But, as director of the pathology training program, Dr.
Haggitt had regretfully declined to award the killer a post-residency Fellowship contract
because of sub-optimal performance (for which the killer had been counseled for about a year,
without improvement). They had all tried their best to encourage him to apply/move to another
- HOMICIDE by
child abuse: (1) 24 Sept. 2000, page B3, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper) carries
the story that a mother and her boyfriend have just been charged for the death of her 9 month
old son, Jaquan Perry who died on 21 Sept. 2000 from complications of a beating at least 2 days
prior. Autopsy showed evidence of healed fractures from previous beatings. (2) 22 September
2009, front page (A1), The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper) carries the story of conviction
& 10 year sentence to jail of day-care operator, Willie Ritter, in the death of 9 month old
Javon Wilson who was left in a van all day of a hot spring day & died of
- Homicide by
criminal recklessness: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 24 June 2000, page A4:
Nashville, Indiana. Dorothy Stewart, 71 year old census worker killed by a pack of dogs owned
by Wayne Newton and Joann Latvaitis. Investigators charged them with "homicide by criminal
- Homicide by
criminal negligence:18 Nov. 2000, page A4, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper):
Vail, Colorado. Nathan Hall, now 21 years old, was charged with reckless manslaughter [possible
16 year jail term] for the death of 33 year-old Alan Cobb in 1997. Hall, a ski lift operator at
Vail Resort that winter, collided with Cobb while skiing extremely fast in poor ski conditions
as Hall left his work shift. Cobb died shortly of head injuries. After 18 hours of
deliberation, the jury found Hall guilty, instead, of "criminally negligent homicide". 1 Feb.
2001, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), from Denver, Colorado: Vail ski resort settled a
lawsuit by the Cobb family for $300,000. And, Hall was sentenced after his own trial to 90 days
in jail and 240 hours of community service, having been "...convicted of negligent
- Homicide by
depraved indifference: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 12 March 2004, page A5,
"Twins' mother refused surgery, faces charges", by Alexandria Sage of AP. Melissa Ann Rowland
refused to have a C-section even though one twin showed signs of serious distress...because she
did not want a scar. Said to have refused advice of 5 doctors in Salt Lake City, Utah (baby boy
delivered dead on 13 January 2004...baby girl alive).
DUI...vehicular homicide: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 9 July 2000, page A5:
Audrey Kishline, author of "Moderate Drinking: The New Option for Problem Drinkers" and former
opponent of Alcoholics Anonymous' style of total abstinence, recently pled guilty to two counts
of vehicular homicide. After a binge-drinking episode in March in which she was so intoxicated
that she barely remembered climbing into her pickup truck, this 43 year old woman headed the
wrong way down an interstate highway near Cle Elum (in central Washington state) and smashed
head-on into a car. The wreck killed 38 year old Danny Davis (an electrician) and his 12 year
old daughter, LaSchell. Kishline's blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. Though the
maximum penalty there is life imprisonment, prosecutors are asking for only 4 + years because
she pledges to recant her book and carry out a campaign against drunk driving. [check out
Mothers Against Drunk Driving]
- HOMICIDE, by
way of death during an abduction: Larry Gene Bell abducted Shari Faye Smith in 1985
(she suffered from diabetes insipidus), and the decomposed body was found about 5 days later.
He also killed Debra May Helmick.
reckless: 21 March 2009, page A4, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): In Chardon,
Ohio, 41 year old transgender (1993 sex change) wife (Chris Mason, aka Christine Newton-John)
of 73 year old James Mason was sentenced 3/20/09 for killing in June 2008 her frail husband
with forced swimming & treadmill exercise caught on a surveillance camera.
reckless with wanton endangerment: 22 September 2009 brought reports of a jury
rendering a not-guilty verdict for Coach David Jason Stinson, Pleasure Ridge Park High School
football coach in the August 2008 death of player, Max Gilpin, who collapsed during practice.
It was charged that Stinson ran the player practices to the point of abuse.
second degree, reckless: 2 August 2009, page A4, The State (Columbia, S. C.
newspaper): In Wausau, Wis., 47 year old father (Dale Neumann) was convicted in the death of
his 11 y/o daughter for whom he prayed rather than seek medical care (she had undiagnosed
- HOMICIDE, in
self defense, but with grave recklessness:
- HOMICIDE, in
self-defense (justifiable homicide):
12 & 21 Oct. 2000, page A7 & A12, The
State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): On May 7, 2000, Troy Lee Carlisle and Kenny Peeples
had gone on a boating trip on Arkabutla Lake with Kenny's 7 year old stepdaughter and her
4 year old brother. Wearing life jackets, the two children jumped in (or were swept into)
the lake and swept away by choppy waves. The two men jumped in, Troy without a life
jacket. Troy ended up with 7 year old Dallas Reinhardt's life jacket, and her drowned
body was found two days later. Troy was charged with "depraved-heart murder"
because he was suspected of placing another person in imminent danger of death. Charges
were reduced, and Troy was convicted of the reduced charge of "manslaughter" and later
sentenced by Judge George Ready in Hernando, Miss., to the maximum 20 years in prison.
Carlisle said he panicked, "I was thinking I was going to die or she was going to die. I
didn't really want both of us to die, so I figured I'd take it off her and put it around
my arm...but she slipped out of my hand."
28 & 29 Nov. 2000, page B1 & B3, The State (Columbia, S.
C. newspaper): On 16 Oct. 1998, Terry Lee Coleman went to the home of Frank Eugene Pevey
looking for his estranged wife, Pevey's daughter. Pevey refused to let Coleman in, and Coleman
threatened to kill Pevey. A struggle ensued, and Pevey collapsed, complaining of chest pains.
Pevey was pronounced dead at Lexington Medical Center. Dr. Joel Sexton performed a forensic
autopsy and found that one of the coronary arteries was 98% blocked; and he concluded that the
fatal heart attack was brought on by the stress of the situation. Coleman was charged with
murder. On 28 Nov. 2000, Coleman submitted a plea of "guilty of voluntary manslaughter and
first-degree burglary" with a jail term of 20 years (with parole possible in 17
- MANSLAUGHTER, in self defense, but with grave
- MANSLAUGHTER, in self defense:
- MANSLAUGHTER, involuntary: The State (Columbia, S. C.
newspaper), 2 February 2000: Frank Paul Speagle, 22 years old, of Winnsboro, South Carolina
became the first person in that state's history charged in the killing of a person by dogs. In
December 1999, his two pit bulls attacked and killed John Mickle, 45 years old. Mickle bled to
death after the dogs bit him all over his body, tearing off a section of his left leg. A
maximum possible sentence is of 11 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A jury trial found him
innocent on 20 Sept. 2000.
- SUICIDE by
Cop: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 2 June 2000, front page section A:
Richland County Coroner, Frank Barron, ruled the death suicide because 20 year old Eric M.
Jones essentially forced officers to shoot him during a short standoff at the Riverview
Apartments off Broad River Road. This may have been the first such ruling in South Carolina
- Guilty but
mentally ill (for any of the above): The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 15 June
2000: Miles W. Porter, 40 years old, caused a collision that killed 43 year old Arlene Protin
in Lexington County, South Carolina. Judge Henry McKellar sentenced Porter to 18 years in
prison and a $15,000 fine. Porter is said to suffer from manic depression and entered a plea of
"guilty but mentally ill". That means that he will be treated in a prison psychiatric unit
until he is fit to be released into the general prison population.
punishment death: Though legally allowed in the USA, I consider it a Biblical sin and
prohibition because: (1) it takes away the chance for a non-believer to convert to being a
born-again believer; (2) the modern society performing the execution is not one governed by a
man specifically appointed & anointed by God; and, (3) the modern society is not
specifically living as a society for the purpose of working out God's will! In other words (in
my personal opinion), Biblical, God-commanded, non-sinful capital punishment is limited to one
specific ancient society, Israel. Besides, the USA conviction error rate is too high.
suicide: Pathologist, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, by the end of 1998 acknowledged helping at
least 130 ill people commit suicide.
syndrome by proxy: This is a situation in which, say, a mother (almost without knowing
she is doing it) creates illnesses in a child in order to satisfy a deep, hidden craving for
attention. Gail Cutro was an Irmo day care operator who had a child die (FA93-1) which we autopsied in 1993 who died in this way. Children sometimes die of the induced illnesses...a death directly caused by the
actions of another.
homicide: this is the deliberate or coincidental killing of the fetus being carried in
a woman and in which case that maternal woman did not seek the death of the fetus (as in
abortion, below). Examples are Robert Keeler and the baby-girl Vogt case in California (courts
ruled that only someone born alive could be killed...state Supreme Court ruled that murder
charges could only apply to a fetus older than 7 weeks); as of early 2003, there are fetal
homicide laws on the books in a dozen states with "living" defined anywhere from the moment of
conception to "quickening"...when mother first feels baby move. In Pennsylvania a women was
convicted of murder in about 2002 for causing a romantic rival to miscarry her 15 weeks-old
fetus. And there was the 2002-2003 Laci Peterson case & her baby.
- Abortion: The innocent blood of over 50,000,000 (by 2015) unborn
infants has flowed because of their induced deaths in the USA since abortion was society-sanctioned through being "made legal"
in 1973 because people persist choosing to believe that unborn infants are yet-undefined "tissue" of
the mother (of note: no one can determine when the baby gets its soul [ensoulment]). Yet molecular biologists and others (try thinking about the human genome project)
have proven for years that an entirely new human individual...a person...starts at the moment of conception.
In May of 2000, "partial birth abortion" (late pregnancy) was even declared
legal by the US Supreme Court. Abortions may be legal, but are they not all
just Biblical murder?
of a non-blighted embryo: A joint report May 2003 by the Rand Corp. and the Society
for Assisted Reproductive Technology indicates that there are 400,000 frozen embryos (human
animation) in the 430 fertility centers in the USA...2.2% are scheduled to be destroyed (2.8%
set aside for "research"). Further, were the USA to allow creation of human embryos, then the
"use" of such embryos would cause destruction of the embryos.
- Killed by
law enforcement in the line of duty, unavoidable or
- Killing of
the enemy in a declared war:
killing/manslaughter: By common convention, an unavoidable killing of another
person by a sober person responsibly going about his/her business is legally considered to be
an accidental manner of death...not homicide. This was one of the types of situations leading
to the creation of the "cities of refuge" (Numbers 35:9-34) in the ancient Israel of the
death: This term implies/involves a civil action against the alleged "killer" for the
purpose of the family of the deceased attempting to recover civil damages.
- Death by
"living will" and/or DNR (do not resusitate)...such as in hospice-like situations: in
these situations...clearly covered in personal written legal directions, families and the
medical system and society decide not to resuscitate or carry on life-saving/maintaining
activities. The person dies a "homicidal death" in that life could have been
- Death by
declaration of "legally dead": this is always by way of a legal protocol and following
medical testing and observation sufficient to meet society's criteria of "legally dead" even
though biological life might be sustainable.
- Death by
"living will-like" and/or DNR-like...such as in hospice-like situations without written
uncontested...under medical care and with family aware & OK (without
admitted protest) and with physician assuring that condition is terminal and patient comatose:
this has been a common and classical situation in the medical arena since there has been any
organized system of medical care. Patient is allowed to die & any medications for pain or
comfort may hasten the process.
non-legal...under medical care and with family aware & with mixed permission
by spouse and/or next of kin and with physician assuring that condition is terminal and patient
comatose: this has been a common and classical situation in the medical arena since there has
been any organized system of medical care. Families may end up in bitter disputes and feelings
for years to come because there were firm differences about what to do. This is what living
wills, DNR orders, and health care powers of attorney (above) hope to avoid.
> contested, legal: under medical care
and with family aware & into the legal system and with physician assuring that condition is
terminal but patient not clearly "at death's door": this has been a rare situation in the
medical arena and was brought to public view leading to Easter 2005 with the Terri Schindler
Schiavo case. I think that the legal system should (1) require testimony as to the patient's
wishes be through a lie detector interview and (2) that the system always err on the side of
- Death during
a medical mishap: By convention, most of these are considered "natural" because the
patient's disease put them into the situation. But, circumstances could be tied directly &
clearly enough to the actions or inactions of a practitioner that the death might be ruled an
- Death by
self abuse or high-risk behavior: By convention, most deaths due to a persons reckless
or carefully-considered high-risk behavior are ruled accidental or natural. But didn't (1) the
person who knew better & drove drunk, (2) the hopeless alcoholic, & (3) the Mt.
Everest mountain climber cause their own death (suicide)?
- Death by refusal to thrive: By convention, deaths among terminally ill, hopeless persons who get down to the point that they refuse to eat and drink and then die are listed as natural manner of death.
- Suicides by others following a connected suicide: One thought-provoking 2014 editorial suggests that one might very distantly consider such a death an unintended homicide when triggered by the fatal, negative influence of the one originally committing suicid!e
as a ripple effect of being connected to one who recently committed suicide!...that is, the connectedness of human relationships is powerful. I suscribe, however, to the belief that suicide is not a sane action (and that the deceased had to have been at least momentarily insane...except in an instance such as leaping out of the firey windows of the World Trade Towers when they were attacked).
***give me your comments about this
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(Posted 14 Sept. 1999; latest addition/update 17 March 2017)