While divorcing her husband, and having been separated from him for over half a year, Nicole Ryan decided to have him done in, so proceeded to hire a hit man to do the job. Unbeknownst to her, the guy was a RCMP officer (mountie), and she was arrested. The Canadian Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal of her acquittal.
Ms. Ryan was acquitted by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court under the so-called “battered woman defense.” This was what got Mary Winkler an exceptionally short sentence after she killed her husband with a shotgun while he slept. Winkler didn’t allege physical abuse, but rather that her husband was a pervert for wanting her to dress sexy. For her crime, she did about seven months in jail.
Nicole Ryan alleges that her husband Michael had threatened to kill her and her daughter, and had been abusive. The court accepted her version, although it doesn’t appear that her husband had ever been convicted of a crime. Nor do media outlets seem to have taken the time to interview her husband, who almost certainly has a different version of events.
What’s different about the “battered woman defense” and ordinary self-defense cases is that in self-defense there has to be an imminent danger of harm. For the battered woman defense, there only needs to be a belief that harm could plausibly happen at some point in the future. For example, if a wife thinks her husband might lay a hand on her at some point in the future for some reason or the other, she can blow him away and then claim “battered woman defense.”
The Canadian Supreme Court has taken the case because it strains credulity that Ms. Ryan’s husband would or could have harmed her, given that they had been separated for months, and she was safe in another house with a protection order.
Nevertheless, as in the case I highlighted the other day in which a man was thrown out of his children’s life because his ex-wife “believed” he was a molester, the defense in this contract killing case appear to be using the same logic:
Brian Greenspan, another of Ryan’s lawyers, argued that Ryan was not legally wrong to “arrange a pre-emptive strike” on her husband because she was “faced with the belief that a pervasive and recurrent threat to kill her and to harm her child would be carried out.”
Of course, a feminist lawyer – the type who can always be counted on to support murder when committed by a female – stepped in to blame the problem on inadequate law and domestic violence prevention:
The Supreme Court decision could ultimately affect how the law would be applied to cases of abused women, said Christine Boyle, lawyer for intervener the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.
“What is at stake is whether there is a way in which the Supreme Court can encourage the police and prosecutors to exercise due diligence in enforcing the criminal law, restraint orders, probation orders, etc, so that abused women have the equal protection of the law.”
Perhaps what she has in mind is not only decriminalizing contract killing for wives, but ensuring that the police are tasked with doing the job.
It looks as though Canada’s Supreme Court will let Ms. Ryan off the hook, scot free. The result of such a decision will be more spousal killings, of both husbands and wives.
There really is a lot of stupidity in high places.