Hank Brennan, Famed Defense Attorney, Answers Questions on Scotty McMillan Defendants

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The murder of Scott McMillan, the three year old savagely beaten and systematically tortured over a three day period by his mother and boyfriend, has drawn attention from media, legal scholars and  commentators.

Hank Brennan, famed attorney and co-counsel in the mobster trial for James "Whitey" Bulger and lead counsel in the appellate process to secure the notorious gangster a second trial based on government corruption is providing legal commentary for Haute-Lifestyle.com.

As the three defendants are set to appear in a Pennsylvania courtroom this month for arraignment, we posed rather basic questions to Mr. Brennan based on the facts that have been released surrounding the culpability of all adults at the scene.

The questions posed to Mr. Brennan, may sound simplistic, as he said "This is one of the most tragic and heart wrenching cases I have seen. As a criminal defense attorney you train yourself to ensure emotion is not part of the legal assessment. It is an almost impossible task to separate emotion from the facts of this case and it strains human nature to expect a jury to look at this case dispassionately."

Janet Walker: Does the possibility exist under the law to have the third person owner/primary renter of the home charged with the same crimes and face the same death penalty or life in prison considering she was present and has not denied being present?"

Hank Brennan: A person cannot be convicted of a crime unless they fall within one of the following categories: The person was actively involved in committing the criminal act; helped assist in the preparation of the act; or were involved in a conspiracy or joint-venture to commit the act.

A conspiracy or joint-venture basically means that the person shared the mental state necessary to commit the act and were willing to assist if necessary, even if they did not actively assist.

An owner or primary renter of a home where a crime occurred, regardless of how heinous, has no criminal liability if they did not help prepare, cover-up or share in the mental state necessary to commit the act.

Equally troublesome is that "good-Samaritan" laws generally do not impose criminal liability for failure to act unless the person created the risk and abandoned the victim who suffered as a result of the persons conduct.  States have varying laws relative to duty to act but essentially the consequences are limited to the civil system not the criminal system.  

The principal is basic, a person should not be punished for a criminal act they had no part of.  It may be incomprehensible that a parent would retreat behind the excuse that they did not want to get involved in the murder of a child but the law does not punish mere presence.  

 JW: Can her remarks of not wanting to get involved don't fly as the violence occurred in her home and thus by association make her a suspect in the abuse and as guilty and could even be grounds to create reasonable doubt in the mothers defense sending her to death row also."

HB: The government could have a viable case against the mother/primary renter on a theory of joint-venture.

The government merely needs to demonstrate presence, which she admits, along with the shared mental intent (intent to kill/malice). The government does not need to prove she committed any act. Rather, that she was willing to assist if necessary.

A compelling argument exists that she was willing to assist. She provided the opportunity, the means (her residence), and an inference exists that she shared the mental state.  No person could watch such brutality and not share the same malice. The jury could infer malice from the circumstances and given her conduct I would expect any jury to extend the inference as far as the law would allow.  To passively watch the vicious murder of a child creates an inference she shared the mental state of malice.

Complete prosecution of all involved, present or not, in the murder of Scott McMillan is the charge of the prosecutor. It is the charge of the media and every agency to bear pressure upon the system so as to ensure not one person, no matter how far removed from the dirty, dingy trailer where the lifeless boy was placed on an deflated mattress and left to die  escape unpunished.

 

Haute Tease

  • James Bulger Appeal Deadline Nears

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    James Bulger, the notorious Boston mobster convicted in what has been called a sham proceeding, is fighting for the chance at a new trial to present evidence of alleged deals he had with members of the Massachusetts State law enforcement.

     
  • Roger Ebert and Ryan Coogler Honored with Vanguard Awards at Sundance Institute LA Benefit, Hosted by Tiffany & Co.

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Los Angeles, CA — Last night, Wednesday, June 5, the third annual ‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’ benefit in Los Angeles honored the life and work of beloved journalist and film critic Roger Ebert with the Vanguard Leadership Award in Memoriam.

     
  • James Gandolfini Dead at 51

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    James Gandolfini, Emmy award winning actor, producer and star of stage and screen, has died of an apparent heart attack while vacationing with his son, Michael, in Rome, Italy. He was 51.

     
  • Malaysian Airliner Disappears Over South China Sea

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 carrying 239 passengers and crew members, originating in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, fell off the radar approximately one hour into the routine flight destined for Beijing, China.

     
  • Holiday Travel: See How the Cost of a Flight Has Changed Since 1963

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

     

    The so-called "Golden Age" of flying -- a vibrant era of luxury in which the comfort and enjoyment of the passenger was put first. These were the '50s and '60s, before the jumbo jet made airline travel much cheaper and more accessible to the public.

Crime

  • Tennessee Boy Found Guilty in Murder Of Neighbor Girl

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In a story that has gained international attention, Benjamin Nicolas Tiller, 11, has been found guilty of first degree murder in the shotgun death of his neighbor, MaKayla Dyer, 8, stemming from a dispute that escalated over puppies.

     
  • Judge in Stanford Rape Case Stops Hearing Criminal Cases

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced the Stanford convicted rapist to six months including time served, has stopped hearing felony cases due to the public outrage over his leniency in what has been deemed a travesty of justice.

     
  • Boston Bomber Found Guilty; Sentencing to Follow

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon Bomber, was found guilty of homegrown terrorism and other crimes after a month long trial where the theory of mental coercion by the defendant’s brother was introduced. His guilty verdict deems him death penalty eligible.

     
  • Five Dead in Washington State Rampage; Third Mass Shooting This Week, Second in 24 Hours

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The last 24 hours have been particularly violent as two separate Mass shootings, in Hesston, Kansas and Belfair, Washington became the second and third of this bloody February leap year with a Kalamazoo, Michigan Uber driver being the first.

     
  • Kim Kardashian West Robbed at Gunpoint; Kanye West Cancels Concert Mid-Song Citing "Family Emergency"

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Kim Kardashian West, reality television star and wife of musician Kanye West, was robbed at gunpoint of $10million dollars in jewelry while staying at a private residence in Paris for Fashion Week, according to media reports and her publicist.

Auto, Yachts, Jets, Real Estate

  • Bienvenue Chez VousConcierge Auctions Announces Its First European Auction In Sexy Saint Tropez, France

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Leading luxury auction firm, Concierge Auctions, enters the European market in ultra sexy Saint Tropez, France,the 11th country in which the firm is now holding auctions, with the auction of Villa La Ponche, a prívate estate boasting French Riviera views.

     
  • Donald Trump Lists Beverly Hills Mansion

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Even the most politically disinterested person has not escaped being gobsmacked by what might be the strangest presidential campaign in American history. Candidates are scrutinized and bicker on everything from their marital history and health to even their choice of homes.

     
  • Celebrity Real Estate News: Walt Disney's Palm Springs Vacation Home on The Market

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    When Walt and Roy Disney co-founded the Walt Disney Co. in 1920, they had dreams of large success, but likely could not have fathomed becoming the world leader in fantasy, cartoon characters and family film. 

     
  • Breathtaking Malibu Beachfront Property Hits Market

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A stunning Malibu beachfront four bedroom triplex situated in the coveted Malibu Colony Cove Community, with brilliant, dramatic Pacific Ocean views as well as direct beach access, has recently hit the market.