Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Ultimate in Both Darwinism AND Irony.

At the annual awards dinner of the American Academy of Forensic Science, Dr. Don H. Mills astounded his audience with this story of a bizarre death:
A medical examiner concluded Ronald Opus died from a shotgun wound to the head. He'd attempted suicide by jumping from the top of a 10 story building, leaving a note to that effect, but was killed by a shotgun blast from a 9th floor window as he fell.
He was obviously unaware of the newly installed construction safety net at the
8th flr. level. His body, bearing the fatal wound but otherwise unscathed, was retrieved from this net with some difficulty.
"Usually," Dr. Mills said, "a person who dies in a suicide attempt, though the method isn't what was intended, is still defined as committing suicide. But since Mr. Opus was fatally shot before dying during the attempt, and as he wouldn't have succeeded due to the net, the med. examiner and investigators initially regarded the case a homicide."
The 9th floor apt. was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he threatened her with the shotgun, but when he pulled the trigger he missed her and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.
"When one attempts to kill A but instead kills B, one is still guilty of murder, but the man AND his wife were adamant that they both thought the shotgun was unloaded. It was his long-standing habit to threaten her with the unloaded shotgun, but he never intended to actually shoot her. Therefore, the killing of Mr. Opus was labeled an accident, though 2 of the investigators lobbied for a charge of manslaughter, as the death resulted from a criminal act (threatening someone with a firearm)."
"THEN it got complicated." Dr. Mills paused for some water as assorted sounds of wonder rippled through the crowd. Once it abated he continued.
"The couple had a son and investigators discovered a witness to the fact that he'd loaded the shotgun 6 weeks prior. The old lady had cut off his financial support and knowing his father often threatened her with the shotgun, he'd loaded it, expecting his father to shoot her. So the case reverted to one of murder, on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus."
"Now for the exquisite twist." Again the crowd was astonished as they pondered further complications.
"Further investigation found that the son WAS Ronald Opus. He'd grown depressed over failing to cause his mother's death, leading him to jump off the building, only to be killed by the shotgun blast. The son had actually murdered himself. It was accidental death, murder, manslaughter, AND suicide. Due to the anguish Mr. Opus's parents had already suffered, the medical examiner and lead investigator decided on suicide and closed the books."

Submitted by: Sandra Culp - Associated Press

To quote another famous story-teller: "Now you know the REST of the story!" -- Todd

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