Article: What Murder Says About the Society It Exists In
• Homicide has always been present in not only in the United States but around the
world. ‘legitimate’ homicide meaning war.
• After things like the shooting at Columbine High school, it was only then that
social historians realized that homicide can tell us something about society.
• The depiction of murder reveals a shift from values based in the Puritan religion to
• Murderers are seen as sinners in a community of sinners
• The killer is seen as a alien monster whose crimes reflect his separation from the
rest of society.
• American culture has taken such a vast interest into homicide. It’s become a
• There are two things that attract historians, sociologist and criminologist to
• One being the depictions of the poor, minorities, women, religious and ethnic
minorities and other who had been often overlooked in histories oriented toward the
rich and powerful.
• The second was a renewed respect for narrative rather than quantitative or technical
• The shift in homicide rates reflects social, economic and technological factors
ranging from changes in policing and weapons to shifts in employment that may
take a generation to take hold, rather than any single government policy.
Article: The Battered Wife Defence: The Lavallee Case
• Lavalle was in a three to four year common-law relationship with her spouse Kevin
(“Rooster”) Rust – they frequently fought and
• The physical abuse she suffered brought her to the hospital several times – burses,
contusions, broken nose and black eyes
• However, an eye witness has had seen/heard Ms. Lavallee point a gun at him
threatening to kill him if he ever touched her again/
• This constant argument eventually brought Ms Lavalle to kill her husband while the
two were hosting a party
• She was charged with second degree murder and the jury acquitted her and she did
• Then came forth the “battered wife syndrome” – Madam Justice Wilson adjusted
the law of self-defence so it accommodated battered women.
• Before this decision was made, anyone who intentionally caused death or grievous
bodily harm in self defence was legally justified if he or she did so “under
reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm”
• With the new act it does not provide that the accuses must apprehend imminent
danger when he or she acts.
• Wilson understood that some people might have some hostel feelings towards the
new law in saying that the women should wait till the attack is taking progress however Wilson says that if they wait until the attack is unfolding it might be too
late for the person being abused.
• This law however does not give battered women the right to kill their husband. It is
up to the jury to decide in any given case whether the evidence ( especially one
from the psychiatrist) is sufficient enough.
Chapter 16 – The Impact of Homicide
Page. 296 - 315
• The image of murder is present everywhere in our society. From murder parties, the
game board clue to video games.
• Homicide Survivors or Co-Victims
o Co-victims remain un accounted for by the FBI or other organizations that
keep track of victimization.
o A prevalence survey done in the States in 1991 found that 9.3% of those
sampled were homicide survivors.
o Research shows that homicide survivors can suffer immensely from the
tragic lose of their loved ones.
o Survivors sometimes feel as though the press invades their privacy or
portray their loved ones in an unfavourable light. They also have to deal
with the anger they feel towards the murderer
o Another issue is that there are more murders that remain unsolved so the
survivors have to deal with the fact of knowing their loved ones killer is
somewhere out there unpunished.
o Guilt, rage, anxiety, helplessness, apprehension our normal feelings for the
survivors. A common side effect is PTSD – Post traumatic stress disorder
o In fact PTSD is more prevalent in homicide survivors then in people who
lose their loved ones to suicide and accidents.
o These symptoms can be seen in the physical form, headache, insomnia and
loss of appetite.
o Also for the survivors along with their emotional trauma there may be
financial trauma. Sometimes having to pay for the hospital bills of their
loved in attempt to save them or having to attend all the trials can make
them absent from jobs.
• Survivors and the Criminal Justice System
o Crimes in the United States…are viewed as crimes against the state instead
of crimes against individual victims.
o Often, the survivors are not kept inform about the status of the investigation
and can sometimes even be considered suspects.
o Research shows that when the survivor interacts with the criminal justice
system, it reassures their sense of powerlessness.
o Survivors sometimes feels as though the murderers family has better
treatment then they do because of things like the plea bargain, not guilty
verdicts and reduced sentences due to good behaviours. o Some studies show that survivors who experience a trial vs. having a cold
case caused higher depre