On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this...
Ordinarily a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide
intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not
what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine
stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to
homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been
achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that
he had homicide on his hands...
Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th
floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly
man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an
interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun
straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his
wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.
When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt,
one is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with
this conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that
neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the
old man to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to
murder her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be
accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded...
But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen
loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident.
That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her
son's financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father
to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that
the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on
the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus...
Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly
despondent over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered.
This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be
killed by a shotgun blast through a 9th story window.
The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.