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NCJ Number: 119344 Find in a Library
Title: Use of Expert Testimony in the Defense of Battered Women (1981) and Guide to Conducting a Psychological Autopsy (1987) (From Representing...Battered Women Who Kill, P 212-231, 1989, Sara Lee Johann and Frank Osanka -- See NCJ-119339)
Author(s): K McKinnie
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: Charles C. Thomas
Springfield, IL 62704
Sale Source: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The value of the psychological autopsy in the criminal trial of battered women who kill their abusers is discussed.
Abstract: The psychological autopsy is a process designed to assess various factors, including the behavior, thoughts, feelings, and relationships of a deceased individual. It represents an effective trial strategy in the case of battered women who kill their abusers to present a full picture of the violent nature of the deceased. Such expert testimony can be used in a battered woman's defense to assert that the real victim is the defendant. The psychological autopsy should be admissible under the general rule that courts will admit evidence of the deceased's reputation for violence when the claim of self-defense is raised. The expert witness helps to convey the defendant's legitimate fear prompting her act. Such testimony is necessary to neutralize possible bias in the judge and jury and to compensate for the woman's point of view in the "reasonable man" standard. The primary reason why a behavioral scientist is involved in the psychological autopsy is that the mode of death is equivocal. Guidelines on what to include in a comprehensive behavioral analysis after an individual's death are listed. Legal issues associated with the psychological autopsy are examined briefly to demonstrate the significant impact autopsy results can have on family benefits and criminal prosecution. 52 references.
Main Term(s): Legal remedies for battered women
Index Term(s): Expert witnesses; Psychologists role in criminal justice; Self defense
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