At the annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, the president Don Harper Mills, astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.
On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus. The decadent wrote a note indicating his despondency and then jumped from the top of a ten-story building. As he fell past the ninth floor, a shotgun blast through a window killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decadent knew that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide because of this, anyway. Dr. Mills concluded that Opus, shot on his way to certain death nine stories below could not have altered his mode of death from suicide to homicide. However, because his suicidal intent was not successful, the medical examiner felt he had a homicide on his hands. The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast came from, was occupied by and elderly man and his wife. During an argument, he threatened her with the shotgun but was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he missed his wife and shot through the window, killing Opus. In the eyes of the law, when one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one becomes guilty of murdering subject B. When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were adamant that neither knew the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it had been his habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention of murdering her. The killing of Opus appeared to be an accident if the gun had been accidentally loaded. Continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks before the fatal incident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing his father's habit of using the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun hoping his father would shoot his mother. The case then became one of murder on the part of the son, for the death of Ronald Opus. Further investigation revealed that the son, Ronald Opus, increasingly despondent over his failure to engineer his mother's death) jumped off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast from his father, through a ninth story window. The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.
This story is NOT true ... it was made up by Dr. Mills to show how complex the laws can be. Pretty wild, eh?