Discussion - You face eviction from your home

Question # 00846972 Posted By: wildcraft Updated on: 10/19/2023 03:59 AM Due on: 10/19/2023
Subject Law Topic General Law Tutorials:
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Imagine this scenario. You face eviction from your home. Your teen daughter is off school because she is ill. A sheriff or constable arrives at your door to serve eviction and you briefly open the door, slam it shut, and return with a rifle in your arms.  You again open the door. Meanwhile, your daughter has heard the commotion and has appeared in the entry, though not visible to the sheriff because she is standing behind you.  You raise your weapon. Moments later, the sheriff fires his service pistol.  The bullet goes through your upper arm and into your daughter's heart, killing her.  You are charged with her murder.  How can that be?

This is what happened in a sleepy Pennsylvania town one January morning in 2016.  According to media accounts, Constable Clark Steele arrived at Donald Meyer Jr.'s house in Duncannon, Penn Township, Perry County, on January 11, 2016, to execute an order of eviction from the rental property.  Meyer's 12-year-old daughter, Ciara Meyer, was standing behind him when he opened the door, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, which he raised at Constable Steele.  Steele then fired his service revolver at Donald Meyer, Jr., hitting him in the arm.  The bullet went through his arm and into Ciara's heart and lung, killing her.  Soon after, Donald Meyer Jr. was charged with criminal homicide, endangering children and a host of other criminal offenses including possession of a weapon by unauthorized persons on account of an earlier psychiatric hospitalization.

What role does mens rea and actus reus play in this case? Can the father be held criminally responsible for his daughter's death? Why or why not? You make the call.

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