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How to Get Away With Murder? Yellowstone Is the Answer.

Updated on May 24, 2018
Joe Don Anderson profile image

Joe Don is a student pursuing the aerospace engineering field.

The Border Issue

Before you can understand how you could get away with such a crime, you must know about the park's Zone of Death. Yellowstone National Park is mainly located in Wyoming, but there is a small, 50-mile strip of land that is located in Idaho. This information is the catalyst for a loophole that allows you to walk away from homicide.

The Zone of Death

Even though the majority of the park is in Wyoming, small portions of Yellowstone are in both Idaho and Montana. This region is often called the Zone of Death.
Even though the majority of the park is in Wyoming, small portions of Yellowstone are in both Idaho and Montana. This region is often called the Zone of Death. | Source

A Murder in the Park

Let's say two guys are camping inside the park's Zone of Death. An argument sparks between the two, and a homicide takes place. The murderer, aware of the legal loophole, confesses his crime and turns himself into the park authorities. When tried for murder, the defendant demands that the jury is made up of people from the state and district in which the crime occurred. The Sixth Amendment grants him this right, but there is one problem. Since Yellowstone is a National Park, Wyoming has authority over all of the park, even if it is located in another state. Therefore, a jury must be composed out of people from the Idaho section of the park. No one lives in this district, so the murderer gets away scot-free due to the inability to form a jury.

The Sixth Amendment

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.

2005 Case

Believe it or not, the Zone of Death has made its way into a trial once before. In 2005, an elk was illegally shot and killed inside of the Montana section of the park. The hunter was taken to Wyoming to be tried, where he argued his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. A handful of people do live in that district, but the court dismissed the argument completely. So even if you do commit a murder in the Zone of Death, the courts may not agree that the loophole actually exists.

Taking Action

Even though a murder has yet to be committed in the Zone of Death, and the loophole hasn't been truly tested, why wait until it has? A simple solution to the problem would be to give Idaho and Montana ownership and jurisdiction of the park that is within their state borders. Brian Kalt, a Michigan State law professor, writes, “Crime is bad, after all – but so is violating the Constitution. If the loophole described in this Essay does exist it should be closed, not ignored.” Congress may have bigger issues to worry about, but unless a bill is passed, the location for the perfect crime is still possible.

© 2018 Joe Don Anderson


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