Sydney, NSW -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/26/2013 -- The crime of murder is a capital offense that carries with it a penalty of life imprisonment. A plea of guilty prevents the presentation of evidence of facts that may mitigate and/or aggravate the penalty which may be imposed. Nonetheless, to assist the judge in imposing penalties, evidence may be presented by medical experts and witnesses to show why the penalty imposed should be lowered or increased.
A 27 year old woman, called the police asking for assistance to find her six year old daughter who had apparently wandered away from their flat. The police searched for the child but could not find her. Finally, the mother of three children, admitted to shoving her six year old daughter with her foot so that she fell of her bed, hit her head and died. She was charged with murder.
The mother, suffering from intellectual disability with an IQ of only 68, led the police officers to the spot in the bush where she and her husband dug a shallow grave to bury their daughter. The child’s body had been burned to remove all traces of her identity before being buried. A forensic examination revealed that the child has suffered numerous injuries prior to her death. The cause of death is several blows to her head from different directions. These blows fractured her jaw and her teeth. She died soon thereafter. The mother did not call an ambulance to report the ‘accident’ as the child had died. The mother and the father stored her corpse in a suitcase for three days before driving to the bush to burn and bury her.
The prosecution insisted that these acts showed utter disregard for the life of the child. The number of injuries and the manner upon which these were systematically inflicted upon the child shows depravity and intent to commit murder. Failing and refusing to call for medical assistance for the child and hiding her body by burning and burying it shows consciousness of guilt and the desire to hide their crime.
The court, in refusing to impute the specific intent to commit murder on the mother but merely considered her intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, considered the mother’s documented intellectual disability, her troubled and violent home life, as well as the pressure and anxiety associated with having three small children (the six year old, the two year old and the two month old). Evidence was received from the mother’s psychiatrist who made several assessments when she was a teenager when her mother died and before she was placed in foster care and then again prior to her release as a ward of the state.
The mother was beaten up by her father during her early childhood as was her mother. She was forced to care for her mother who had fallen sick of epilepsy. She was the one who found her mother dead. After her mother’s death, her extended family rejected her, even as her father continued to physically maltreat her. She was brought into foster care, the psychiatrist found her unable to reason through her pain, her suffering and her experiences. She is incapable of caring for herself, much less care for her daughter. Her adverse childhood experiences predisposed her to domestic violence as well. She was found guilty of manslaughter and not of murder and was sentenced accordingly. Her plea of guilty served to lower her penalty by ten per cent. She was also ordered to receive psychiatric care while in custody.
About Alan Weiss
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