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NCJ Number: 158823 Find in a Library
Title: Reconstructing Homicide Events: The Role of Witnesses in Fatal Encounters
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:23  Issue:5  Dated:(1995)  Pages:439-450
Author(s): S H Decker
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 12
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using St. Louis homicides for the years 1985-1989, this study provides a classification scheme to account for and better understand the roles of witnesses in homicide events.
Abstract: Examinations of homicide have used both micro- and macrolevel data to account for the interaction between victims and offenders. Missing from such analyses, however, is an examination of the role of witnesses or third parties present at homicide events. These individuals may play a variety of roles in homicide events, including instigating, mediating, escalating, or facilitating fatal violence. The largest category of witnesses was classified as surrogates, suggesting that many acts of violence may be linked by relationships between the participants. Many witnesses appeared to exacerbate violence or the potential for violence. The dynamic character of violent interactions means that these roles could change during the course of a homicide. The concept of protective stakes has been used to account for the actions of the audience during violent encounters. This concept illustrates the fact that actions during homicides stem from an extended view of self-interest, one that encompasses the protection of other individuals. In addition to the roles of participants at homicide scenes, researchers must explore: (1) homicides in which the victim is a stranger to the perpetrator. These events are unique; less is understood about the role of witnesses in these events than in others; (2) events precipitated by the audience. These must be differentiated from other events; and (3) the interconnectedness of homicide events. Table, references
Main Term(s): Police
Index Term(s): Analysis; Criminology; Homicide; Stranger on stranger crimes; Victim crime precipitation; Victim-offender relationships; Victims of Crime; Witness intervention in crime; Witnesses
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