A Nevada Supreme Court decision reversed the second degree murder conviction of Brian O'Keefe in the death of his long time girlfriend according to a story at the Las Vegas Sun. Normally a story like this would not get more than a glance from me, but last week I had the honor of being involved in a pretty high-toned exercise in blogging/blawging with my cyber-pal, Gayle of Gayle's Bard Blog where she reads the plays so you don't have to.
Look at Brian O'Keefe, he is a troubled soul, I know troubled souls. O'Keefe killed his girlfriend Victoria Whitmarsh in what appears to have been a drunken struggle over a knife. The two had been drinking and he says she came at him with the knife. She was stabbed in the side and died fell to the ground striking her head. After the stabbing he called neighbors in a panic trying to get help.
The trial court mistakenly instructed the jury that a second degree murder conviction could be sustained by an "involuntary killing." Huh?! And get this the trial court thought this jury instruction mistake was "harmless error." Harmless error is the doctrine where the court screwed one side or the other--usually the one with the most to lose, and then covers it with an instruction to the jury along the lines of "my bad, ignore what I said before," this is the juridic act of "unringing the bell." When you. the Judge, instructed the 12 nice people that comprise the jury that the not very nice man who killed his girlfriend in a drunken stupor murdered her even if he didn't intend to do it, well, darn it, that's just a little hard to undo.
This homicide proves, as if anyone needed proof that not all homicides or killings are murders. The evidence sure sound like a drunken stupid struggle between two doomed lunatics, not second degree murder.