Consider the following magic trick, as performed by Penn & Teller.
On the stage is a large, glass-sided tank full of water. There is a trapdoor at the top, and a padlock, some chains, etc. “Teller is going to recreate one of Houdini’s great escapes”, goes the patter. Penn picks a volunteer from the audience; this volunteer (under Penn’s guidance) pushes Teller’s head underwater in the tank, closes the lid (leaving no air gap at the top of the tank) and secures the padlock and chains on the trap door. We all watch as Teller tries to escape, fails, goes into convulsions and “drowns”; lying limply under the water having “failed” to open the hatch.
“Better get a lawyer”, says Penn to the volunteer, “A theater full of people just saw you drown Teller”.
Now obviously it’s a trick, although not the trick people thought they were going to see. And I still have not figured out how they do it.
But consider for a moment Penn’s statement above. If in fact Teller had drowned in the tank, has the volunteer who pushed him underwater and closed and locked the trapdoor committed murder? Manslaughter? or what?
ps: I do understand, in these litigious times, that the volunteer would be sued in civil court. I’m more curious about criminal acts.