This is the classic first year criminal law exercise. Who is liable? What is the extent of their culpability? For those who don’t know, the story goes like this:
A man, intending to commit suicide, jumps off a building. As he free falls, he passes a window on the seventh floor. Just as he passes that window, a shot rings out and a bullet strikes him, killing him. Neither he nor the shooter was aware that there was a safety net constructed just below the sixth floor, which would have prevented him from dying had there been no fatal shot.
Turns out, the shooter was this man’s father, who was in the habit of waving his unloaded rifle at his wife. In another one of their arguments, he had waved the gun at her, this time it was loaded (unbeknown to either one) and went off, going through the window and striking his son.
It is further revealed that the gun, which was usually unloaded, was loaded by the son weeks prior, because he wanted his father to kill his mother.
The urban legend has this concluding as a case of suicide. Does the law support this? What would any of the participants be charged with in your jurisdiction?
The son, obviously, could be charged with some form of attempted homicide. It would be pointless, however, since he is dead. The father, on the other hand, could normally have been charged with recklessness, but it is unforseeable that a man jumping out a window would get shot by him. Or would it suffice that he attempted to shoot his wife, even though he always kept the gun unloaded?
I think this might have been on my crim law final.