21 Feb Domestic Violence and Accidental Death
George Beamer, married to Alice Beamer (not their real names) for 11 years, had suspected for a while that Alice was taking drugs of some sort, but he could not figure out what it was. Alice was having increasingly violent mood swings, to the point that she would pick arguments with him and then hit him across the face and shove him.
He thought he could handle the situation and tried hard to work with Alice to find the cause for her out-of-control episodes. Jonathan, his closest friend, had noted several recent facial bruises on George’s face and managed to get the story out of George. He expressed his concern about the physical violence to George and that he needed to protect himself by contacting the police.
But George did not feel right about calling the police whenever Alice went on one of her episodes. He viewed it as a weakness on his part, and Alice was already under enough stress to have to deal with the police and possible psychoanalysis sessions.
Several months earlier, Alice had suddenly lost her job, one that she had worked at for nearly 20 years, and George knew that it had been devastating for Alice. She felt terrible about herself and she also felt she had lost her identity, but she never directly said anything. Being a stay-at-home wife, however, had never been enough for her and making her own money gave her a sense of independence that she needed.
A career and income were everything to her self-image, and now it was gone. George was sure this was what led to Alice’s downward spiral, depression, and violent mood swings. Add on drugs and it became a volatile situation.
While she qualified for unemployment, the funds were not enough to help with paying the household bills. George, in turn, worked longer hours to help make up for the financial loss. Alice’s latest argument had been to accuse him of having an affair with someone at work, which was not true. George was nearly at his breaking point with trying to hold it all together.
When George came home last night, Alice was already ramped up for a fight. She began hitting and punching him while crying and screaming. In a fit of desperation, after being backed up against the living room wall, George shoved her back to get her off him.
She tripped and fell backward, hitting her head on the edge of the glass coffee table, which shattered on impact. A sliver of glass pierced the base of her skull and she died almost immediately. Aside from the loss of his wife, George was now in serious legal trouble and was taken down to the police station for questioning.
What George Did Next
After reaching the station, George demanded to speak with a defense attorney before answering any questions. He had given his name to the police but did not answer any other questions until the lawyer he called, arrived at the station. This was a case of domestic abuse committed by the wife, but because the outcome was Alice’s death, a charge of involuntary manslaughter is now being considered, due to the circumstances.
California’s Penal Code § 193 covers voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and its penalties. Involuntary manslaughter carries a penalty of two, three, or four years in prison. It is the prosecutor’s duty, however, to present evidence that would warrant a conviction by a jury.
If you have been charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, or a charge of domestic violence, call us at once for a consultation. (619) 234-2300