Criminal Justice Term Paper

Crime happens for different reasons. Some have a motive and some don’t. The three criminal cases I will talk about don’t have a proven motive but they do have speculations.

My cases all involve husbands who have been charged with killing their wives. Of the three cases, two involve celebrities. O.J. Simpson, who’s trial was known to be the crime of the century, was charged with the brutal murder of his ex-wife and a male friend at her Brentwood Estate; Robert Blake, whose trial has not started but who prosecutors say was angry that he was trapped into a marriage due to his wife’s pregnancy; Scott Peterson, who is charged with murdering his wife and their unborn son.

In the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, she was found sprawled face down, left cheek pressing into the ground, her right leg jack-knifed under the gate frame to the left and her buttocks pressed up against the first riser of the four steps that led up to the path leading to the front door of the condominium. Mr. Simpson, being the ex-husband was a potential suspect rather than an actual suspect since at the time there was nothing linking him to the scene of the crime. But what would lead this professional football player, who was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, to a murderer?

Orenthal James Simpson was born July 9, 1947. When he was 2 years old he contracted rickets and had to wear braces on his legs until the age of five. When he was thirteen, he was in a gang named the Persian Warriors and when he was 15, he spent time in custody at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center. On top of all that, his father left his mother for another man and died of AIDS. Could his childhood have affected his manhood? While married to his wife there were numerous occasions where domestic violence was concerned. Is a matter of fact, by the time of the murder trial, the prosecution had sixty-two separate incidents of physical and mental abuse. It was also said that Mr. Simpson could of been suffering from “Othello Syndrome”, a paranoid psychosis characterized by “intense jealousy of a spouse and delusions of infidelity, often leading to violence.“ All in all, Mr. Simpson was found not guilty, but with all the publicity from this case, it seemed more like can a black celebrity get off in a legal system created by and widely administered by whites.

Ms. Bakley was shot in the head outside an Italian restaurant while sitting in Mr. Blake’s car. Mr. Blake said he left her in the car because he left his gun in the restaurant. Earlier that day Mr. Blake, who was a regular and requested the same table all the time, made reservations at Vitello’s Restaurant. But this time he asked for a different table and when he walked in the restaurant he introduced Ms. Bakley as his wife. Employees at the restaurant didn’t even know Mr. Blake was married. According to one patron they said during the meal, Mr. Blake was seen in the bathroom vomiting. After their meal they left and later on Mr. Blake returned asking about his gun. When he returned to his car, he found his wife dead.

Ms. Bakley, who had many aliases, had a criminal record. Also was known to have burned men. Does this damage her character? Or can this be a reason defense counsel uses to prove Mr. Blake’s innocence, claiming it could of been a past love?

Born Michael Gubitosi in 1933 but changed his name to Robert Blake, his father brutally abused him because of resentment to his son’s success. To get away from his father he joined the Army but was discharged. From there Mr. Blake began using and selling drugs. Could a childhood of abuse from a parent lead someone to commit a crime? The trial for Mr. Blake has not been set but in due time we shall see.

Laci and Connor Peterson were found on the shores of San Francisco Bay. At the time of Ms. Petersons’ disappearance she was eight months pregnant. On the day of her disappearance, Mr. Peterson told police that the last time he saw his wife is when he was leaving to go on a fishing trip. He said she had plans to do her normal routine but when he came home that night she was gone. Weeks into the investigation, police found out that Mr. Peterson was having an affair and had taken a $250,000 life insurance policy out on his wife. Mr. Peterson broke his virtual silence with several television interviews acknowledging the affair, but denying it had anything to do with his wife’s disappearance. He said they had a “glorious” marriage, and his wife knew about the affair and had made her peace with the relationship.
Scott Peterson was born in San Diego in 1972. He was the youngest of five boys. He had a happy, healthy childhood and got plenty of attention. He attended Arizona State University on a partial golf scholarship but ended up at California Polytechnic State University. Mr. Petersons’ childhood is very different from Mr. Simpson’s and Mr. Blake’s. He had a “normal” childhood. So what could have happened to this man that would have him on trial for the murder of his wife and unborn son? Could it have been the extramarital affair? Or was it the root to all evil? The $250,000 life insurance policy he and laci had two years prior to her murder?

Each of the cases I have mentioned above concern individuals with different upbringings. For this reason different criminological theories apply. In the case of Mr. Simpson, I think Eysenck’s Conditioning Theory would apply to him. In this theory, human personality may be seen in three dimensions- psychoticism, extroversion and neuroticism. Psychoticism deals with aggressive, egocentric, and impulsive behaviors. Mr. Simpson had a history of domestic violence. Extroversion consist of sensation-seeking, dominant, and assertiveness. This can also include domestic violence. Domestic violence is a control issue, being DOMINANT over the weak individual. Neuroticism may be described as having low self-esteem, excessive anxiety, and mood swings. Mr. Simpson was in a gang when he was younger and most young adults join gangs because of low-self esteem, wanting to feel like they belong to something.
Mr. Blake’s case I would say consist of Maternal Deprivation and Attachment Theory. He was brutally abused as a child by his father which means that he had no warm, loving and emotional bond with his father. In our book it only mentions a relationship with a mother or mother figure but I find that discriminating because father’s can be warm, caring and loving also. So this is why I chose this theory for Mr. Blake’s case.

For Mr. Peterson’s case I chose General Strain Theory. His strain caused by the presentation of positively valued stimuli. His wife knew of the affair he was having, and though he says she came to peace with that, she might have always brought it up leading him to believe she really couldn’t handle the fact and wanted to go their separate ways. This type of strain results from the actual or anticipated loss of something or someone important in one’s life. He probably anticipated a divorce and didn’t want to go through that. Mr. Peterson’s case is still in process so just as Mr. Blake’s, we will have to wait and see.

Preventive measures in dealing with these kinds of crimes is hard. Why? Because a person is “molded” from birth. Police officers, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, the law cannot prevent or stop a criminal or crime by themselves. Everything comes down to the home front. Are the parents giving the child the love but discipline that they need to deal with life and society? If a parent doesn’t do anything but abuse a child that is all a child knows, and eventually the child will want to release that rage within him/herself. At the same time a child needs discipline and guidance. If a parent lets their child roam the streets at all times of the day and night, the child will learn from their peers, they will want to be part of the “crew”, they will want to be “down”. Parents need to step up to the plate and be a parent first and a friend later. Now a days so many young teenage girls are becoming mothers when they are still a child themselves. So how can they provide for a baby? They still want to go hang out and have fun. So what happens is a never ending cycle of kids having kids. How can we have a productive society like that? We can’t until there is a change in the value of life and morals. This can only be done from the home front…from family.


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