Jealousy seems to be the most common motivation for killing an intimate partner; Control is not far behind. Similar to shooting a warning shot in the air- to instill fear or signal dominance, prior physical and mental abuse often precedes homicide. Most acts of intimate partner homicide, where the man kills his spouse or another intimate partner, reflect a history of multiple acts of violence (one study conducted in North Carolina noted prior physical abuse to be present in 79% of such homicides). This pattern can derail an otherwise “heat of the passion” defense, which by definition, does not encompass a relationship fraught with violence because the “norm” doesn’t tie in with a surprising and distinct event. It is hard to argue for something less than murder, say manslaughter when the “sudden” quarrel or unexpected event is antecedent to acts of prior violence.
Beyond jealousy, adultery often induces murder. Whether issuing from a “provocation” or “Assumption of Ownership” male- state- of- mind, the rationale is deeply held. It wasn’t until Texas repealed their law regarding “justifiable” homicide in 1974, which a “man” was permitted to kill his wife if he caught her in the act of adultery. The statute then provided: Homicide is justifiable when committed by the husband (emphasis supplied) upon one taken in the act of adultery with the wife, provided the killing occurred before the parties to the act have separated (the defense did not exist if the husband had consented to the act). This “revenge” rationale extended to several other states as well.
While statistics vastly vary, it is estimated that between 38 to 50 percent of female murder victims have been killed by a husband or boyfriend. Conversely, the percentage of time woman kill men under similar circumstances is between 5 to 8 percent. “Regular” domestic violence is similarly shaped in the sense that men are much more likely to punch, strike or choke their female victims while women choose lesser forms of violence such as screaming, throwing items and slapping. Woman sometimes seem to use less direct (in the form of physical presence) methodological ways to effect murder; they use “hit-men” and poison; men tend to use their brute strength.
In 2012, the U.S. population was about 313,914,040. There were 14,827 known homicides (murder and non-negligent manslaughter) – resulting in 4.7 murders per 100,000 people.
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