Subject: General Questions / College life
Dale and Mike Parak were twin brothers and best friends. They spent their entire lives looking out for each other's interests. While growing up, the two were inseparable. They played sports together, double-dated frequently, and attended the same university. They grew closer as they aged, they got married at about the same time, and eventually, both were divorced. After they retired from their jobs, they decided to live together to save money, and they still enjoyed each other's company.
When he was 70 years old, Mike was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors predicted that he had about 6 months to live. The brothers agreed that Mike should not suffer. Mike and Dale wrote and signed a note stating that they decided to commit suicide. Dale broke 20 tranquilizers into Mike's evening meal and watched as he ate it. Yet, when Dale checked on Mike one hour later, Mike was still alive. Dale panicked. He took a .38-caliber revolver from his desk and shot Mike, killing him instantly. Dale then went into the kitchen and took a handful of tranquilizers. He did not die. He awoke the next morning as somebody pounded on the front door. It was a neighbor who, seeing that Dale was dazed and confused, decided to call an ambulance and the police.
The responding police officer conducted an investigation, and Dale was arrested and charged with the premeditated, 1st-degree murder of Mike. The prosecutor, although noting it to be a difficult case, pursued the case because she thought that no citizen had the right to decide when someone should die. Dale Parak pled guilty to 1st-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 5 years in a maximum-security prison. (Note: This was the lowest sentence that could be given to a defendant convicted of his crime.)
What is your personal definition of “justice”? What is the formal definition of “justice”? Do you believe that “justice” was served in this scenario?
What is the state definition of the charge that you would file as the prosecutor against Dale? Did Dale commit each of the components and elements of the crime? The elements for 1st-degree, premeditated murder are 1) the unlawful killing; 2) with malice aforethought; 3) of another human being. Explain how each element was or was not committed.
According to the definition of justice you provided, was this sentence just? Why or why not?
If you were the prosecutor in this case, would you have charged Dale Parak with any crime? With 1st-degree murder? Why?
If you were the judge in this case, how would you have sentenced Dale Parak? Why?