Research on Juveniles Sentenced for Murder

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Law

Document 1

Smith (1995), Phillips v. state (2002) and Tate v. State (2003) in determining the basic reasons that the juveniles to commit murder. Overview of the cases under study; 1. People v. Based on the Brutal manner in which the victim was killed, it is highly likely that Eric was reacting to the brutality that he had gone through as he was bullied at school and abused at home. Two critical theories tend to explain why people kill; the nature theory which focuses on the genetic components and the nurture theory which deals with the environment that the murderer was raised in. In Eric’s case, both of the theories may apply. According to Eric’s defense psychiatrist, he was suffering from Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) (and Dysthymic Disorder) (Smith, 1995) although the claim was refuted by the prosecution psychiatrist.

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When Eric’s mother was expectant with Eric, she took Tridione, a drug that causes birth defects, to manage her epilepsy (Leung, Rebecca). When Maddie continued to breathe heavily and loudly, Joshua pulled her out and stabbed her 9 times in the chest and in her abdomen. The motive for this murder was Joshua's fear of his father getting upset that he had been playing with an 8-year-old. In this case, the nurture theory applies. The motivation behind his killing was the fear of his father's anticipated reaction if he discovered that Phillips was playing with the 8-year-old. Notably, this fear could be deducted to imply that his father was abusive. There is no apparent motive based on the existing facts of the case save for the continued exposure to violence (watching wrestling).

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Tate had a violent and disturbed background; he had been suspended from school several times, and he had been accused of theft and lying (Monacelli, Antonia). In this case, the nurture case would apply because based on the facts; there is no evidence that Tate’s crime had biological roots. Opinion Statement While it is prudent to discover the motive behind a person’s impulse to squeeze the life out of another person, it is equally important to understand the history of the killer, especially in terms of their social background when attempting to discern the motivations behind the murder. Based on the above analysis of the three cases, the most prominent and common similarity is the fact that each of the three juveniles had experienced some sought of abuse and trauma prior to the murder.

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In Philips, the killer committed the murder for fear of his father punishing him for playing with Maddie and especially taking her to his room. To some extent, this implies that had the father been lenient, the murder would not have occurred. In this case, the father's punishments had traumatized Phillips to the extent that he would do anything to avoid them. Tate's case encompasses a unique form of abuse and trauma. According to Tate’s account, he was acting out whatever he had watched on his favorite show, wrestling. In the cases above, all the victims were either half the age of the killer or slightly older than half their age. My opinion is basically the nurturing theory. Therefore, a conflicting opinion would be one which addresses the nature theory.

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The basic principle of the theory is the fact that whether a person becomes a killer or not is dependent on their genetic composition. This approach is strongly backed by a research conducted by in 2000. Moreover, my opinion is empirical in that it is rooted in realistic observations as opposed to theoretical expectations. I am of the opinion that negative childhood experiences such as abuse and continued exposure to traumatic experiences are the major contributor to why children and even adults can resort to murder. The implication of this standpoint is that the elimination of these factors will do away with killings in the society. This implication follows a simple direct principle; if something is a problem, then you eliminate it from the equation, the problem becomes automatically solved.

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