Men and the homicidal reactions their wives’ adulterous affairs triggered (or allegedly triggered) have long been the grist for the plots of both music (Garth Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama” comes to mind) and jokes. In one joke, a man confesses to his neighbor (via text message) his numerous and regular indiscretions with the neighbor’s wife. The neighbor shoots dead both the wife and the texter. Back home, the shooter discovers a second text where the confessor informs him that autocorrect had altered his first message and that he had not been indulging himself in the pleasures of the neighbor’s wife, but rather the neighbor’s wifi internet. The joke concluded with the confessor whimsically remarking, “Technology, huh? It’ll be the death of us all.” Most folks read this joke and see irony and humor. An insightful Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer sees a good opportunity to discuss crime of passion defenses in Florida homicide cases.
Back in November, a Hillsborough County jury rejected a Tampa man’s crime of passion defense, instead finding him guilty of first- and second-degree murder for the shooting deaths of his girlfriend and her 10-year-old son. The jury recommended the death penalty, rejecting the man’s contention that he snapped after the girlfriend insulted the memory of his son who died by suicide. Allegedly, the trigger occurred when the woman told the man “I see why your son killed himself like a [expletive] because you’re a little [expletive],” according to FOX 13.
That Tampa case is a reminder of a very important concept: the provocations that can allow a defendant to invoke a crime of passion defense are varied… and vary by state. Most people immediately think of the sudden discovery of cheating spouses, but provocation can also come from being the victim of certain crimes, or even (in some states, including Florida) being the recipient of a romantic overture from a gay or trans person.