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Which is more serious; a premeditated murder, or a crime of passion murder?

Updated on March 20, 2017

I was reading through old news articles, and I happened across a philosophy article that caught my eye. It was a question of which was worse; a murder that was premeditated, or a murder that happens out of the heat of the moment.

Now, there's no question as to the seriousness of both crimes; however, there is a question as to which one should be punished the harshest under the law.

Scenario 1:

Michael Troth, a young man aged 24 leaves his 5th street apartment on the west side of Philly at approximately 6:30 in the morning on April 16, 2004. He heads South for approximately 15 minutes stopping in front of the home of Rachael Sandusky, a 21 year old waitress at a local diner. Standing outside Rachael's residence, Michael asks himself if it's the right thing to do. He's planned every aspect of Rachael's murder, he's purchased a glock, instructed friends to inform police that he was with them during the time frame in question, and went as far as to dig a shallow grave for her.

Michael says let's do this. He walks in to Rachael's apartment and off loads a clip into her sleeping body, quickly turning his attention to disposing of the body and getting out of there before suspicion over the noise of gunshot arises. Michael doesn't skip a beat, There's no second thoughts, no remorse, no what the heck did i just do. No, Rachael had done him wrong by leaving him and he was sure to make her pay for her betrayal.

Skipping forward, Michael is arrested, charged, and convicted of murder in the first degree. He's sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The death penalty was left off the table, simply because Michael was young, a hard worker without a criminal record, and sounded remorseful for his acts.

Scenario 2:

Sally Smith, a 42-year old bank employee from the downtown Atlanta area. Sally and her husband Raymond have been married for 22-years, have raised 2 children together, and have the kind of marriage people only dream about.

Raymond, a 44-year old factory worker has been leading a secret life for the past two years. Unbeknownst to Sally, Raymond has been living this double life in their bed while she's out making a living.

One day Sally decides to surprise Raymond by coming home for lunch, something she typically doesn't do. When Sally walked into the house she hears a women's voice. Thinking it's an intruder, Sally grabs Raymond's gun out of the closet. She walks upstairs, quietly opening the door. Sees her husband and his mistress on the bed, embracing each other and off loads into them both, killing them.

Sally calls the police and explains the situation, they arrest her for two counts of manslaughter and put her in holding. Fast forward, Sally pleads guilty and finds herself behind bars for 10 years with parole possible after 6.5 years.

Which should be punished to the full extent of the law?

Which should be punished to the full extent of the law? First degree murder (premeditated murder), or a crime of passion (manslaughter)?

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Now, both these scenarios depict a suspect whose been done wrong by the object of their affection/Love. The difference lies specifically in Michael's choice to plan out Rachael's murder, as opposed to Sally killing her husband and his mistress out of shock. Both are murderers, both got prison time, but in the end premeditated murder is far more dangerous than a crime of passion ever will be.


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