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Concept: Murder


Violence has important health effects. The results of exposure to physical violence include, but may not be limited to, death from suicide and homicide. The connection between the experience of assault and risk of death from causes other than homicide and suicide has rarely been examined.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Epidemiology, Death, Violence, Suicide, Terrorism, Murder, Nelson Erazo


Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women aged ≤44 years.* In 2015, homicide caused the death of 3,519 girls and women in the United States. Rates of female homicide vary by race/ethnicity (1), and nearly half of victims are killed by a current or former male intimate partner (2). To inform homicide and intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention efforts, CDC analyzed homicide data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) among 10,018 women aged ≥18 years in 18 states during 2003-2014. The frequency of homicide by race/ethnicity and precipitating circumstances of homicides associated with and without IPV were examined. Non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native women experienced the highest rates of homicide (4.4 and 4.3 per 100,000 population, respectively). Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related; 11.2% of victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the month preceding their deaths, and argument and jealousy were common precipitating circumstances. Targeted IPV prevention programs for populations at disproportionate risk and enhanced access to intervention services for persons experiencing IPV are needed to reduce homicides among women.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Death, Demography, United States, Violence, Homicide, Causes of death, Murder


Mental health evidence concerning antisocial and psychopathic traits appears to be introduced frequently in capital murder trials in the United States to argue that defendants are a “continuing threat” to society and thus worthy of execution. Using a simulation design, the present research examined how layperson perceptions of the psychopathic traits exhibited by a capital defendant would impact their attitudes about whether he should receive a death sentence. Across three studies (total N = 362), ratings of a defendant’s perceived level of psychopathy strongly predicted support for executing him. The vast majority of the predictive utility was attributable to interpersonal and affective traits historically associated with psychopathy rather than traits associated with a criminal and socially deviant lifestyle. A defendant’s perceived lack of remorse in particular was influential, although perceptions of grandiose self-worth and a manipulative interpersonal style also contributed incrementally to support for a death sentence. These results highlight how attributions regarding socially undesirable personality traits can have a pronounced negative impact on layperson attitudes toward persons who are perceived to exhibit these characteristics. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Crime, Mental disorder, Capital punishment, Antisocial personality disorder, Psychopathy, Murder, Capital punishment in the United States


Although criminal psychopathy is starting to be relatively well described, our knowledge of the characteristics and scientific markers of serial murdering is still very poor. A serial killer who murdered more than five people, KT, was administered a battery of standardized tests aimed at measuring neuropsychological impairment and social/emotional cognition deficits. KT exhibited a striking dissociation between a high level of emotional detachment and a low score on the antisocial behavior scale on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 showed a normal pattern with the psychotic triad at borderline level. KT had a high intelligence score and showed almost no impairment in cognitive tests sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Theory of Mind, Tower of London, this latter evidenced a mild impairment in planning performance). In the tests on moral, emotional and social cognition, his patterns of response differed from matched controls and from past reports on criminal psychopaths as, unlike these individuals, KT exhibited normal recognition of fear and a relatively intact knowledge of moral rules but he was impaired in the recognition of anger, embarrassment and conventional social rules. The overall picture of KT suggests that serial killing may be closer to normality than psychopathy defined according to either the DSM IV or the PCL-R, and it would be characterized by a relatively spared moral cognition and selective deficits in social and emotional cognition domains.

Concepts: Psychology, Crime, Antisocial personality disorder, Psychopathy, Murder, Hare Psychopathy Checklist, Robert Hare, The Mask of Sanity


Untrustworthy faces incur negative judgments across numerous domains. Existing work in this area has focused on situations in which the target’s trustworthiness is relevant to the judgment (e.g., criminal verdicts and economic games). Yet in the present studies, we found that people also overgeneralized trustworthiness in criminal-sentencing decisions when trustworthiness should not be judicially relevant, and they did so even for the most extreme sentencing decision: condemning someone to death. In Study 1, we found that perceptions of untrustworthiness predicted death sentences (vs. life sentences) for convicted murderers in Florida (N = 742). Moreover, in Study 2, we found that the link between trustworthiness and the death sentence occurred even when participants viewed innocent people who had been exonerated after originally being sentenced to death. These results highlight the power of facial appearance to prejudice perceivers and affect life outcomes even to the point of execution, which suggests an alarming bias in the criminal-justice system.

Concepts: Crime, Prison, Capital punishment, Murder, Capital punishment in the United States


Homicide of children is a global problem. The under-5-y age group is the second largest homicide age group after 15-19 y olds, but has received little research attention. Understanding age and gender patterns is important for assisting with developing prevention interventions. Here we present an age and gender analysis of homicides among children under 5 y in South Africa from a national study that included a focus on neonaticide and infanticide.

Concepts: Infant, Gender, Child, Infanticide, Homicide, Infancy, Murder, Nelson Erazo


In the USA, homicide is a leading cause of death for young males and a major cause of racial disparities in life expectancy for men. There are intense debate and little rigorous research on the effects of firearm sales regulation on homicides. This study estimates the impact of Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun law on states' homicide rates and controls for changes in poverty, unemployment, crime, incarceration, policing levels, and other policies that could potentially affect homicides. Using death certificate data available through 2010, the repeal of Missouri’s PTP law was associated with an increase in annual firearm homicides rates of 1.09 per 100,000 (+23 %) but was unrelated to changes in non-firearm homicide rates. Using Uniform Crime Reporting data from police through 2012, the law’s repeal was associated with increased annual murders rates of 0.93 per 100,000 (+16 %). These estimated effects translate to increases of between 55 and 63 homicides per year in Missouri.

Concepts: Law, Criminology, Homicide, Causes of death, Police, Firearm, Crimes, Murder


Criminal investigations of suspected murder cases require estimating the post-mortem interval (PMI, or time after death) which is challenging for long PMIs. Here we present the case of human remains found in a Swiss forest. We have used a multidisciplinary approach involving the analysis of bones and soil samples collected beneath the remains of the head, upper and lower body and “control” samples taken a few meters away. We analysed soil chemical characteristics, mites and nematodes (by microscopy) and micro-eukaryotes (by Illumina high throughput sequencing). The PMI estimate on hair 14C-data via bomb peak radiocarbon dating gave a time range of 1 to 3 years before the discovery of the remains. Cluster analyses for soil chemical constituents, nematodes, mites and micro-eukaryotes revealed two clusters 1) head and upper body and 2) lower body and controls. From mite evidence, we conclude that the body was probably brought to the site after death. However, chemical analyses, nematode community analyses and the analyses of micro-eukaryotes indicate that decomposition took place at least partly on site. This study illustrates the usefulness of combining several lines of evidence for the study of homicide cases to better calibrate PMI inference tools.

Concepts: Death, Logic, Homicide, Radiocarbon dating, Murder


Objective. We assessed the effectiveness of South Africa’s Firearm Control Act (FCA), passed in 2000, on firearm homicide rates compared with rates of nonfirearm homicide across 5 South African cities from 2001 to 2005. Methods. We conducted a retrospective population-based study of 37 067 firearm and nonfirearm homicide cases. Generalized linear models helped estimate and compare time trends of firearm and nonfirearm homicides, adjusting for age, sex, race, day of week, city, year of death, and population size. Results. There was a statistically significant decreasing trend regarding firearm homicides from 2001, with an adjusted year-on-year homicide rate ratio of 0.864 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.848, 0.880), representing a decrease of 13.6% per annum. The year-on-year decrease in nonfirearm homicide rates was also significant, but considerably lower at 0.976 (95% CI = 0.954, 0.997). Results suggest that 4585 (95% CI = 4427, 4723) lives were saved across 5 cities from 2001 to 2005 because of the FCA. Conclusions. Strength, timing and consistent decline suggest stricter gun control mediated by the FCA accounted for a significant decrease in homicide overall, and firearm homicide in particular, during the study period. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 16, 2014: e1-e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.310650).

Concepts: Regression analysis, Statistics, Africa, South Africa, Confidence interval, Statistical hypothesis testing, Generalized linear model, Murder


Since 1976, the United States has seen over 1,400 judicial executions, and these have been highly concentrated in only a few states and counties. The number of executions across counties appears to fit a stretched distribution. These distributions are typically reflective of self-reinforcing processes where the probability of observing an event increases for each previous event. To examine these processes, we employ two-pronged empirical strategy. First, we utilize bootstrapped Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests to determine whether the pattern of executions reflect a stretched distribution, and confirm that they do. Second, we test for event-dependence using the Conditional Frailty Model. Our tests estimate the monthly hazard of an execution in a given county, accounting for the number of previous executions, homicides, poverty, and population demographics. Controlling for other factors, we find that the number of prior executions in a county increases the probability of the next execution and accelerates its timing. Once a jurisdiction goes down a given path, the path becomes self-reinforcing, causing the counties to separate out into those never executing (the vast majority of counties) and those which use the punishment frequently. This finding is of great legal and normative concern, and ultimately, may not be consistent with the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Concepts: United States, United States Constitution, New York City, Capital punishment, Murder