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James Brady's Death Ruled a Homicide

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Was President Reagan's press secretary James Brady, who died last Monday, murdered by John Hinckley 33 years ago?

That is the odd question raised by a ruling of Virginia's medical examiner, who has determined that the death was a homicide, evidently finding a sufficient causal connection between the wound and the death.  Peter Hermann has this story in the WaPo.

At common law, a death was not a homicide unless it occurred within a year and a day of the blow.  States have been scrapping that rule, and in Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U.S. 451 (2001), the Supreme Court said that if a jurisdiction's year-and-a-day rule had been established in case law, that rule could be scrapped retroactively.  (A statute repealing a statutory year-and-a-day rule presumably could not, as that would be an ex post facto law.)

Much as I would love to see Hinckley go to prison, where he should have been all along, I very much doubt that causation could be stretched this far in a criminal case, just as a gut reaction.  Plus, the insanity verdict in the original case would probably preclude the government from relitigating his sanity.

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