In 1966, a police officer is shot during the apprehension of a suspect in a break-in. The officer lives. The suspect is tried and convicted of attempted murder and serves over 20 years for that crime, and others.
Fast forward forty years. The criminal has completed his incarceration, the police officer has been wheelchair bound, paralyzed because he was shot in the spine. The police officer now contracts a urinary tract infection (UTI), and experiences complications. He suffers a fatal heart attack, resulting from the complications of that UTI.
Officials have now re-arrested the criminal, now age 74, and plan to try him for murder. Their case? The police officer (now age 64) died as a result of the gunshot wound. How? The gunshot wound to the spine paralyzed him, placing him in a wheelchair. Prosecutors say that the UTI was a direct result of the paralysis, and the infection generated complications, which caused the fatal heart attack. Ergo, the police officer died as a result of that gunshot wound, suffered forty years ago.
The Defense has put forward the argument that there may have been causes in the intervening years, the officer had been in two car accidents and experienced a fall from his wheelchair.
Further influencing the case is the fact that an autopsy has not been performed. The Medical Examiner testified that the autopsy had not been done because medical records clearly indicated that death resulted from the UTI, which “stemmed from” the paralysis. The Medical Examiner reported the cause of death as a homicide.
How do you think this case should be decided? Is the criminal responsible for the officer’s death, forty years later?
The story appeared on the Reuter’s Network, the Philadelphia Daily News, and was also discussed on the Michael Smerconish radio program. The listeners’ opinions were pretty evenly split on both sides of the issue.
I have my own opinion on how this should play out, but I’d like to hear your opinion first.