Infanticide

A warning: this is not my usual content.  Some of this will disturb you.
Someone told me about the case of China Arnold, a Dayton, Ohio woman who put her one month baby in the microwave oven and turned it on.  That is a terrible way to kill a baby.

There are some other quite disturbing things about this case, however.

China Arnold has been found guilty of aggravated murder and will be sentenced to death.  Yet according to this article the baby was one month old when she was killed.  It seems to me quite likely that China Arnold was in a very poor mental state when she decided to kill the baby.  Moreover according to this article she demonstrated immediate remorse, repeatedly screaming “I killed my baby!” when the baby was taken to hospital.

I don’t know about Ohio law, but in the United Kingdom even during the dark days of the death penalty this case would not have resulted in a capital sentence.  The Infanticide Act provides a defence for exactly this kind of case.  Moreover the 1957 Homicide Act provides a defence of diminished responsibility which would almost certainly apply in this case.

I find it improbable that Ohio law considers a mother who kills her child just one month after giving birth to be in full possession of her mental faculties.

Something has gone terribly wrong with this case, or else the press reports aren’t telling the whole story.

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3 Responses

  1. […] In miscellaneous | Tags: china arnold, infanticide, infanticide act, ohio, united kingdom Last month I wrote about the tragic case of China Arnold.  As I remarked, in UK law the mother in such a tragic case would probably not even be charged […]

  2. “I find it improbable that Ohio law considers a mother who kills her child just one month after giving birth to be in full possession of her mental faculties.”…

    I hate to tell you this, but most mothers ARE IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS one month after giving birth. Just because a woman kills her newborn so close to delivery does not necessarily mean she did so as a result of postpartum psychosis or depression. The elapsed time since the birth of the baby does NOT equal mental illness. Diagnosing postpartum problems is not done that way.

  3. The unproven notion that most women who kill their children one month after giving birth may be in the right minds doesn’t explain why a disproportionately high number of women kill their babies. It’s hardly an opportunistic crime.

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