Human Exceptionalism

Guilty as Charged for Murdering Daughter With Cerebral Palsy: But Would She Have Received Slap on Wrist if “Compassion” Was Defense?

I reported a little while ago about Joanne Hill, who murdered her daughter with cerebral palsy. Now, she has been found guilty. From the story:

A mother who drowned her disabled daughter in a bath after drinking wine was convicted of murder yesterday and sentenced to life in prison.

Joanne Hill, 32, from Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, north Wales, admitted killing four-year-old Naomi by drowning her in November last year. She had denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. However, the jury at Chester crown court, which had heard Hill was embarrassed about her daughter’s mild cerebral palsy, rejected this plea and found her guilty of murder after deliberating for an hour-and-a-half. She will not be eligible for parole for at least 15 years.

Her estranged husband, Simon Hill, 38, told a press conference he would never be able to come to terms with what had happened. His daughter “lived life to the full and was an inspiration”, he said.

Judge Elgan Edwards told Hill: “There can be no excuse for what you did.”

The judge said: “You killed your own daughter because you could not cope with her disability. You had other pressures upon you, a disintegrating marriage, and you decided to kill your own daughter by drowning her.”

Good. Killing children should be beyond excuse.

However, I can’t help but think that Ms. Hill’s lawyer chose the wrong defense strategy. Recall Robert Latimer, the Canadian who murdered his daughter Traci because she had cerebral palsy–an act supported by his wife after the fact and applauded widely in Canada. Latimer’s defense was he was doing it for Traci, as a compassionate and loving act. He got off with a several years in prison, and the jury didn’t even want him to serve that much time.

So, this is apparently the moral of the story: Murder your daughter because you are embarrassed that she has cerebral palsy; go to jail for life. But murder your daughter because she has cerebral palsy and excuse it as a loving act to put her out of her misery; do very little time and get good poll ratings. It isn’t the act, it’s the feelings of pity that can be generated among the populace that really counts. Such are the times in which we live.

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