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

  • AFI Makes History at 2015 Student Academy Awards

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The American Film Institute made history by winning all three medals — gold, silver and bronze — in the Narrative category of the 42nd Student Academy Awards competition. The top prize — the gold medal — went to Henry Hughes (AFI Class of 2014) for DAY ONE.  

  • Zuzu Still Thinks IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A Conversation with Karolyn Grimes

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Nothing completes the holiday experience more than an extra serving—to go with the booze and candied yams—of Frank Capra’s yule-tide yarn, of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It’s a picture that can melt even the iciest of hearts and for those of us grown-ups with no self-worth (or money) in December, there’s just something downright conciliatory about it.

     
  • The Sweetest Coffee Drinks for the Holidays

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    With Thanksgiving in the past, and the rest of the holiday season upon us, many belts have been loosened to make room for the extra holiday weight. While the holidays are a well-known time for increased sugar intake, many coffee companies are taking it to the next level.  

  • Eleven More Stars Set to Present At 89TH OSCARS®

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd today announced the third slate of presenters for the 89th Oscars® telecast.  Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will air live Sunday, February 26, on the ABC Television Network.  

  • Weinstein Lexus Short Film Series Three Review – Attention Grabbing, Comedy, and Mysticism Make the Cut

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Four films, Game, Friday Night, Messiah, and The Nation Holds its Breath, selected in Series Three of the Lexus Short Films competition continue to raise the bar in what has become an extremely successful partnership.

Crime

  • Victim in South Carolina Police Shooting Owed Child Support

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A South Carolina police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man after a routine traffic stop in which the victim ran as he could not produce insurance or registration papers for the vehicle pulled over for a faulty tail light.

     
  • Nine Dead, 17 Injured; 192 Arrested in Waco Biker Brawl

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Nine gang members shot and killed each other in a Wild West gangland shoot out at the Twin Peaks Bar and Grill in Waco, Texas, in what has been described as the worst crimes in almost 35 years of law enforcement.

     
  • Crime City USA: The Top Thirty Murder Capitals

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Crime rates are decreasing across large cities in the United States, but murder rates are on the rise.  

  • Manhattan District Attorney Plans Second Etan Patz Trial

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced today he would seek a second trial in the Etan Patz child murder case that ended in a mistrial as the jury remained deadlocked after 18 days of deliberations.

     
  • 18 Penn State “Brothers” Arrested in Fraternity Murder

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Eighteen Beta Theta Pi Alpha Upsilon Fraternity brothers at Penn State University, still synonymous with pedophile cover up of football Coach Jerry Sandusky, have been arrested in the shocking hazing death of Timothy Piazza, a freshman pledge, during the annual Rush Week.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • Joshua Tree Spring Music Festival - A Global Experience in the Magical Mojave

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Merging its funky desert style with an internationally acclaimed lineup of musical artists, this three day (and four night) family-friendly festival is truly a global music experience. The 13th Annual Spring Joshua Tree Music Festival melds the overwhelming spirit of desert freedom with powerful music from around the world to create a lighthearted oasis for music lovers.

     
  • HL London: Paul McCartney's LIPA Channels the Spirit of John Peel in Weekly New Music Event

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, co-founded by one of the city's most celebrated sons Paul McCartney, is launching The 2Ube, an eclectic showcase of musical talent from across the north west.

     
  • After Snowden - Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age Review – Opens The Floor to Debate

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In June 2013, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of documents he stole from the National Security Agency (NSA), from several laptop computers, exposing flaws and violations of the Fourth Amendment routinely practiced in the Domestic Surveillance program.

     
  • Celebrities Pay Tribute to Jerry and Elaine Orbach During Launch of Remember How I Love You

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Celebrities, family and friends of the late Jerry and Elaine Orbach gathered recently, at The Snapple Theater Center in Manhattan’s Theater District, to honor them with readings from their newly released book, “Remember How I Love You - Love Letters From An Extraordinary Marriage.”

     
  • In My Footsteps: A Traveler’s Guide to Martha’s Vineyard Review - Compact, Beautiful, Informative

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In My Footsteps, A Traveler’s Guide to Martha’s Vineyard, from author Christopher Sutterland and Schiffer Publishing, presents a comprehensive guide to one of the most iconic and affluent summer island destinations on the Eastern Seaboard.