Friday, July 2, 2010

Man saved from Death Penalty by Warrior Gene

The case of Bradley Waldroup is currently raising a considerable degree of interest...

Waldroup was arrested in Tennessee in 2006 and charged with felony murder and attempted first-degree murder. The case - which was particularly bloody - saw Waldroup (who had been drinking heavily) kill his wife's friend and then attempt to murder his wife (who he was estranged from) in front of his four children. It seemed that the case was relatively open and shut - Waldroup admitted to the crimes and at his trial, said that he had 'just snapped'.

But, rather than be convicted of the charges (which would have carried the death penalty), Waldroup was instead convicted of voluntary manslaughter and attempted second-degree murder - the result spared him a place on Death Row and one of the contributing factors in the decision was his genetics...

You see, Bradley Waldroup apparently has a high risk version of the MOA-A gene - known popularly as the 'warrior gene' and forensic psychiatrist William Bernet successfully argued in court that the presence of this gene - combined with other factors such as his childhood - contributed to the incident. The jury was convinced - a decision which has left the prosecution team, and opposing science experts, in shock.

The decision seemingly opens the door to other defendants to try and use this defence - as Bernet says "A person doesn't choose to have this particular gene or this particular genetic makeup. So I think that should be taken into consideration when we're talking about criminal responsibility."

It would be appear to be a potentially slippery slope that seemingly abrogates people of their responsibilities based upon their genetics - scientists have often pondered a genetic link to kleptomania, it might not, therefore, be long before burglars and thieves are successfully able to argue that their genes are responsible for their crimes.

Based upon all this, I'm waiting for the moment that someone who has been found guilty of committing a serious crime decides to sue their own parents for negligent provision of genetic materials. Sounds utterly crazy? Well, a few years ago, so would the case of Bradley Waldroup...

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