Part 2 of the Attempted Murder? “Zombie” Case in South Florida
The “Zombie” or as some in the media refers to it, the face eating case and the gruesome murder in Maryland are both very high profile cases. There are some differences in these two cases, but also some sad similarities. Lets focus on one major difference; the man that attacked the homeless man in Miami is dead and the Accused Murderer in Maryland is alive.
Now what if Mr. Eugene had lived? What crime would he have been charged with? In the experience of our attorneys here at South Florida Criminal Defense Law Firm of Berman and Tsombanakis, probably Attempted Murder or at least Aggravated Battery. The decision to charge a Defendant is made by the State Attorney’s Office and the lead detectives that are assigned to the case. The decision makers will look at all of the evidence at the crime scene. They will also look at witness statements, witness interviews, any confessions and/or statements by the defendant. After carefully reviewing all of this information they will charge the Defendant accordingly.
The Zombie case here in South Florida, was especially gruesome, because it was recorded and witnesses by law enforcement and civilians. The community, the country and now the world are following this horrific crime and the recovery of the victim. Many high profile cases put unwelcome pressure on the State Attorney’s Office. This pressure sometimes leads to the State Attorney filing charges very quickly and/or in some cases “over charging”. .
Eugene may have been charged with one of the following and possibly some other charges:
1. Aggravated Battery or,
2. Attempted Second Degree Murder
In Florida, Aggravated battery is defined by Florida Statute 748.045 as follows:
(1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
2. Uses a deadly weapon.
(b) A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.
(2) Whoever commits aggravated battery shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084
In Florida, Attempted Second Degree Murder is defined as follows:
1) Defendant intentionally committed an act which would have resulted in the death of victim except that someone prevented defendant from killing victim or he or she failed to do so.
2) The act was imminently dangerous to another and demonstrated a depraved mind without regard for human life.
Furthermore, the State must prove that an act is imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind: if it is an act or series of acts that:
1) a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another and
2) is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
3) is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.
In order to convict a person of attempted second degree murder, it is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had an intent to cause death.
Would a possible mental illness plea have changed the outcome of this case? We will never know, we will only be left to ponder upon this theory. Mental illness has been argued by many criminal defense attorneys. In many cases it is a valid defense. However, there are some who abuse the system with this defense to avoid jail & or prison time. Any defenses to these crimes will be raised via pretrial motions or during the trial. They may also be used as a mitigating factor during plea negotiations.
This gruesome killing has sadly gone viral with videos that were released illegally to the public. Family members are depicting Mr. Eugene as not this type of person, leaving many to wonder was this the result of mental illness and/or an illegal dose of drugs. IF Rudy Eugene had lived, his defense attorneys may have pleaded Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. Another defense may have been that he was mentally ill and therefore, he should be evaluated to determine if he is incompetent to stand trial.
There are two basic defenses to crimes in Florida as it relates to mental illness. They are Incompetency and Insanity. In each situation, the Judge will make the final decision as to whether the person is fit for trial and/or whether they should be placed in a mental facility in lieu of jail or prison. Defendants are usually evaluated for both Insanity and Incompetency. From the experience of the Attorneys here at Berman & Tsombanankis, L.L.C., the defendant in each case is usually evaluated by three different doctors. This is done so that the defendant has a fair and impartial evaluation free of any bias from either side.
The latest news on this and similar crimes is very disturbing. There are claims that this new cocktail of illegal drugs is causing people to act like zombies. According to the Health section of philly.com, the CDC released a statement that there is no zombie apocalypse. It really leaves one to wonder, WHAT IF he had lived? Would this case have been more popular than the OJ Trial, the Casey Anthony Murder trial and the pending Travon Martin Case? Lastly, what would the State Attorney’s Office have charged him with and would this have been the beginning of the “Zombie” trials?