View Single Post
Old 11-29-2014, 01:00 AM
VarlosZ is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Manhattan
Posts: 6,552
Can I back up for a second to talk about something more general?

Originally Posted by brickbacon View Post
20. Adnan, and AFAIK, only Adnan has motive, means, and opportunity to kill Hae.
We've been brought up by television to believe that "means, motive, and opportunity" (MMO) is the be-all and end-all of criminal jurisprudence -- it's probably not a coincidence that brickbacon chose to put it at the end of his list. However, it's actually a pretty useless concept to everyone except prosecutors hoping to snow a jury.

Suppose you want to prove that I bought an apple last week. Did I have the means to buy it? Yes, they're like 2.49/lb, I can afford that. Motive? Sure, I like apples, I suppose there's motive there. Opportunity? Uh-huh, they sell them at the corner store a block away from my apartment. I guess I had the means, motive, and opportunity to buy an apple.

And, hey, suppose further that I can't account for my whereabouts at the time we think the apple was purchased, that someone remembers that I wasn't hungry when I met them that night (suggesting I'd already eaten), that someone else remembers me saying I wanted to get a vegetable peeler one time, that I looked up "grocery" on Google Maps two days before the purchase, that after the purchase someone recalls me saying I liked oranges and not apples (so now my story is shifting like I'm trying to hide something), that I'm not suffering from a Vitamin C deficiency, etc., etc.

Jeez, it's looking pretty bad for me, with all these coincidences piling up. Very damning. The only problem is: I didn't buy any freakin' apples, and none of that stuff does anything to show otherwise. Real evidence would be: security-cam footage of the purchase, a personal check for the correct amount made out on the day in question, a receipt from the store with my fingerprint on it, apple seeds in my garbage, or, yes, an eyewitness. If, instead of stuff like that, we've got means, motive, and opportunity (and the junk from the preceding paragraph), we've actually got nothing. We should try to keep perspective about what certain facts truly demonstrate.

Note: Ok, I don't want to overstate it, MMO can be useful to police at the start of an investigation when they're trying to find suspects to focus on.

Note #2: Most of the above is paraphrased from ideas in Bill James's (very fun) Popular Crime book. (Yes, that Bill James.)

Last edited by VarlosZ; 11-29-2014 at 01:04 AM.