High profile cases of murder such as the one involving John Price and Katherine Knight usually attract the attention of the general public. In effect, they usually form newsworthy items because the public tend to be interest in analyzing those types of cases from a multidimensional vantage point (Oshunrinade, 2015). Due to that aspect, this paper will analyze the murder case of John Price with the aim of ascertaining whether the defendant lacked mens rea. The paper will also assess the newsworthiness of the case as well as apply the tenets of the social learning theory when analyzing it.
Murder is considered as criminal offense mainly because it is the act of deliberately taking away the life of another person (Deflem, 2018). People enjoy the right to life and it is responsibility of all members of the society to uphold that privilege at all costs. Thus, the individuals who are found guilty of committing murder usually receive harsh sentences which range from spending a decade in prison to life imprisonment.
A significant number of murders which have been committed in Australia tend to occur within family settings. In most cases, one of the parents usually kills the other ones deliberately and sometimes the children are typically murdered too. The Belanglo State Forest is infamously known as a dumpsite for bodies of people who have been killed. In 2010, the body of Karlie Pearce Stevenson was located in that particular forest. However, the body was mutilated to the extent that it was almost impossible to identify it positively. Thus, it was positively identified approximately five years later after the skeleton of her daughter was found in a suitcase which was laying by the highway in Wynarka. Investigations by the police confirmed that Daniel James Holdom murdered the two individuals (Deflem, 2018). Similarly, Lionel Patea was convicted, and he pleaded guilty of a murder which he committed in 2015. Lionel was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his ex-partner, who was approximate 24 years old. Tara Brown, who was his ex-partner a mother of a young daughter, was smashed on the face with a 7.8kg fire hydrant metal plate as a result of the disagreement which she had with Lionel. The analysis of the two scenarios reiterates that intimate partners commit a majority of the murders in Australia. Price’s murder also complements the statistics because Knight, who was his wife also killed him.
Indeed, the case concerning the murder of Price by his wife Knight is newsworthy due to the manner in which she conducted the murder. Human beings enjoy the right to life, and all the members of society are required to uphold it. Unfortunately, some of the people chose to take away the lives of others due to a wide variety of reasons. The review of this particular case confirms that Knight committed a heinous crime which the public would be highly interested to know all about it (Binder, 2012). For years, the world has been characterized by numerous scenarios whereby couples kill each other. However, the nature of murder committed by Knight was unheard off in Australia. Reportedly, Knight had sex with her husband before she went ahead to kill him. Knight took away his life using a butcher’s knife, given that she stubbed him 37 times. Clearly, a person who stubs another 37 times is extremely passionate and determined to kill the victim. As if that was not enough, Knight, went ahead to skin the body of Price and hanged it in various parts of the house. Consequently, she decapitated Price’s body and used the head to prepare vegetable stew which she served in plates which were labelled the names of their children. Yes, it is inhuman to kill people, but it is even worse to skin and cook their bodies after murdering them. As a result of that facet, the general public was highly interested in the crime because such an act had never transpired in Australia. The primary interest of the public pertained to the mental health of the accused as well as whether or not justice will be served. In effect, the coverage provided by the media enabled the general public to follow the proceedings of the court effectively. Thus, the society was impressed by the transparency of the justice system, and most importantly, a substantive fraction of it was happy with the verdict passed.
Application of the Social Learning Theory
The social learning theory provides that human beings learn through observation. Thus, it serves as one of the primary ways through which people acquire new habits (Akers, 2011). The analysis of Katherine Knight’s history suggests that she learned how to mistreat people from home. Arguably, that is because she was brought up in a dysfunctional home which was characterized by comparatively high levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Reportedly, Katherine’s mother used to be raped and beaten by their alcoholic father on a regular basis. Consequently, the mother would confide to her about the nature of crude treatment that she was receiving from their father. Unfortunately, Katherine was also sexually abused by some of the members of her family. Thus, she related to the pain and trauma that the mum was experiencing at a personal level. Surprisingly, her mother told Katherine that problems were part and parcel of relationships when she explained the challenges their marriage was facing. Perhaps, the nature of feedback issued by her mother made Katherine assume relationships are supposed to be challenging and toxic. As a result of this particular facet, it is highly likely that Katherine could no longer take the marital challenges which they were facing. In consequence, Katherine decided to murder the husband callously in order to put an end to her problems. Perhaps, the decision she made was based on what she had observed her parents go through while growing up. In effect, Katherine might have felt the best way to solve the marital challenges was to kill her husband because she believed he was the primary source of misery. The analysis of the manner in which Katherine murdered Price reveals that Katherine applied the skills she had acquired while working at the abattoir because this is the place whereby cows are slaughtered and skinned. Consequently, the meat is used to prepare meals which are consumed by human beings.
Evidently, Katherine employed the skills which she had learned via observation when killing Price. Due to that aspect, it was essential for the judge and jury to apply the tenets of social learning theory was reviewing this particular case. The verdict issued by the court is grounded on the social learning theory, particularly vicarious enforcement (Parke, 2014). The judge who ruled on this particular legal matter made history by sentencing the first woman in Australia to life imprisonment without parole. The primary intent of the judge was to ensure that all the other members of the society learn from the lawsuit in order to discourage people from perpetrating such heinous acts against others. The tenet of vicarious enforcement provides that a particular behaviour is likely to persist in society if it is rewarded. Correspondingly, negative behaviours will also disappear or at least their incidence will be minimized if the individuals who exhibit them are punished.
Above all, it is essential for parents to appreciate that the example which they set to children will have a more profound impact than advice issued. Arguably, that is because more often than not, children mainly learn by observation (Parke, 2014). Thus, children who are brought up in dysfunctional families are highly likely to experience challenges in their marriages due to the trauma pertaining to their childhood. Therefore, children who are raised in such settings need counselling in order for them to acquire life skills that allow them to develop robust relationships effectively.
In conclusion, most of the murders in Australia are usually committed by people who have intimate relationships with the victims. The perpetrators normally take the lives of the victims because they have a rocky relationship. Indeed, the courts have been sentencing people who have been found guilty of murder to life imprisonment for year in order to discourage the perpetration of the crime. However, the strategy is has not been effective in terms of minimizing the incidence of murders committed by people in intimate relationships. Thus, it is advisable for the government to intervene by enlightening the society on ways of handling the various dynamics of intimate relationships to minimize such cases of murder.
Akers, R. (2011). Social learning and social structure. New York: Transaction Publishers.
Binder, G. (2012). Critical Perspectives on Crime and Law: Felony Murder. New York: Stanford University Press.
Deflem, M. (2018). Homicide and violent crime. New York: Emerald Publishing Limited.
Oshunrinade, A. (2015). Criminal Law Homicide: Degrees Of Murder And Defenses. New York: Author House.
Parke, R. (2014). Recent Trends in Social Learning Theory. Burlington: Elsevier Science.