Robocop - Could Clarence Boddicker have been prosecuted for Murphy's murder?

Assuming he survived their later encounter of course.

We know from Robocop accessing police records that Officer Alex Murphy has been listed as deceased, however by the end of the movie its common knowledge (well relatively common, do the general public know?) that Alex Murphy is still alive albeit rebuilt as a cyborg.

So could Boddicker be prosecuted for killing someone technically dead but actually still alive, though no longer physically human?

btw this was inspired by a recent watch of ‘Our Robocop Remake’ a collaborative experimental recreation of the Robocop movie, not surprisingly its very uneven but I would say there are enough good parts to make it worth a watch. If you’re interested it can be found on Youtube, as far as I know its free to view.

I would think so based on the fact that Robocop is considered property of OCP, I think at that point its fair to say that he legally ceased to be considered a living human being. At least in the land of fiction.

The point of Robocop (the Verhoeven film, not the sequels or the pointless remake) is that OCP is essentially a quasi-fascist authority which acts as a law onto itself. As a practical matter, nobody is going to be prosecuted for the Robocop program even though it is clearly unethical and Murphy has retained some degree of volition and self-determination despite the directives programmed into the cybernetic implants.


Stranger, you’ve missed the point of the question. It isn’t whether OCP can be prosecuted, it’s whether the criminal gang leader could be prosecuted for the specific crime of murdering Alex Murphy.

I’d say not. In the original film, Murphy is alive at the end. The final line indicated that Robocop IS Murphy. He’s recovering some of his memories and original personality, so it’s the same person.

I’m going to say yes (assuming the fight had gone the way the OP described).

Murphy had been declared dead. But I think a prosecutor would have easily been able to argue that declaration was in error and Murphy was still alive at the time he confronted [del]Red Forman[/del] Clarence Boddiker. Murphy’s actual death, as opposed to his misreported one, was caused by Boddiker.

Yes, at least during the time of the movie and assuming no new laws. It’s clear that in the movie Murphy was considered deceased, I think they even had a shot of his death certificate. Robocop was not legally considered to be Murphy in any sense during the move, he was a robot using some pieces from a deceased human. (Though how his arrest powers work could be interesting). When you have death certificate indicating that someone is dead and a body riddled with bullets, all you need for a homicide conviction is to show that the guy put the bullets in the body, which wouldn’t be overly difficult.

If there was a later ruling that declared that Murphy hadn’t died and that RoboCop was legally considered to be the same person then there would be grounds to overthrow the conviction or trash a murder trial, but that didn’t happen during the movie. People thinking RoboCop is Murphy wouldn’t be sufficient to stop/overturn a murder conviction, there would need to be some kind of ruling from a court that the original declaration of death was in error, or some process for dealing with the new reanimation technology being used. It’s pretty clear in the movie that they didn’t expect him to still be the same person, so I don’t think there’s existing legal precedent around reanimating people. It’s possible that the legal system would settle on “Murphy died, process his estate, RoboCop is a new person who has no special legal relationship to Murphy”, in which case a murder conviction would probably stay.

But even if the courts ruled he couldn’t be charged with murder, they still have him cold on assault.


For mayhem (“lose the arm”) slavery and arguably false imprisonment since his programming effectively makes his robotic body a mobile prison.

But it wasn’t Bodicker that did that to him.

None of that was Boddicker, that was OCP and it’s doctors. Boddicker was the guy who shot him up, then later fought him at the end, not the one converting him into a cyborg.

It doesn’t look like what they did would actually run afoul of Federal slavery statutes, since they require use of force or abuse of legal process as part of the definition, direct mind control by programming directives isn’t actually a crime. Medical treatment is also usually exempted from any kind of ‘mayhem’ statute, and what they did was clearly medical in nature. Aside from the fact that OCP was clearly above the law, I think it would actually be pretty hard to get a conviction on the people turning Murphy’s body into RoboCop under current laws, especially if there was a death certificate or if he had signed some kind of waiver agreeing to the experiment in the event of his death beforehand. OTOH, it seems unlikely that human machine interfacing would get that advanced without some new laws or precedent covering the personhood of cyborgs using a human brain to operate.

What if after robocop gruesomely ripped his throat out with his cool data spike interface thing, they brought Bodicker back as a cyborg, could they put that on trial? :slight_smile:

I imagine that Boddiker would have wound up killing himself like the failed Robocop replacements in the sequel.

They cut his arm off after saving it; that’s malpractice at the very least.

And all that is in the scene where they decide to lose the arm: "He signed the release form when he joined the force, he’s legally dead, we can do pretty much what we want…"

This is why you always read release forms!

You could argue that the full-body prosthesis was a better option than attempting to save one arm, which would have required a more extensive life support system, while also degrading his performance due to an imbalance between left and right sides.

Don’t forget about attempted murder. If there’s enough to prove murder, then, without the death, there should be enough to prove attempted murder.

Of course, that’s assuming laws like our own in this corporatocracy. I could see it still counting as murder in some criminal systems. When the only reason they survive is that someone happened to get them in time for medical intervention, I’m not even sure why we treat them differently. It’s merely luck that the person didn’t die, not anything the criminal did.