An Australian man who shot his friend’s tenant twice has been cleared of murder charges, but convicted of attempting to murder the already-deceased man’s body.
C rime is a fascinating spectacle. Punishment? Even more so. Just ask Daniel Darrington, whom an Australian Supreme Court just decided was innocent of murdering his friend’s tenant, but guilty of attempting to murder his dead body. It began when Rocky Matskassy invited his landlord’s ex-lover over to stay for a weekend. It would prove to be a fateful decision.
Steven Domotor, Matskassy’s landlord, was going out of town that weekend—so Matskassy and Belinda Martin stayed up late drinking, talking, and playing music. Martin ended up staying the night, and slept on a living room recliner while Matskassy slept in his bedroom.
But the innocuous act of having a friend over didn’t sit well with Domotor. Whether or not jealousy for his former lover played a role in what would transpire is unknown. What is known, however, is that Domotor’s friend, Daniel Darrington, confronted Matskassy in the Phillip Street, Sydney home. This is where things get hazy.
“He assaulted the deceased by punching and kicking him in the face.”
Darrington admits to assaulting Matskassy. “He said … he confronted the deceased telling him to get out of his mate’s house,” said prosecutor Peter Rose. “He stated that he had assaulted the deceased by punching and kicking him in the face. He said he then told the deceased to go and clean himself up in the bathroom.”
Darrington claims that when he next saw Matskassy, he was holding a gun behind his back. He claims they wrestled and the gun accidentally discharged, ostensibly killing or nearly-killing Matskassy. Darrington says it looked like Matskassy was suffering, so he found a box of ammunition in his room and fired again into his body.
“He covered him up with a sheet because he looked horrible and the accused didn’t want to look at him.”
He wrapped Matskassy’s body in a black sheet. “He said he did this because the deceased was suffering,” Rose said. “The accused said that after he shot the deceased the second time he covered him up with a sheet because he looked horrible and the accused didn’t want to look at him.”
The court accepted Darrington’s defense that the initial shooting was accidental. They did not, however, let him off the hook for attempting to finish the job. Darrington was found guilty of attempted murder.
Defence barrister John Desmond argued Darrington could note be convicted of attempted murder if Matskassy was already dead, but it seems his intent to kill was enough to warrant conviction.
“The issue is not did Darrington believe the man was alive. The issue is was he factually dead,” Desmond told the jury.
“If someone’s already dead and you then try to kill him, how can that be attempted murder? But the law in this state is because you have the criminal intent to kill and if you, the accused, thought the person was alive, even if he was in fact dead, the law says that would be attempted murder. So just to quickly repeat – if Matskassy dies as a consequence of the first shot, the subsequent deliberate shots into Matskassy are not murder.”
Let the precedent stand: you can be found guilty of attempting to murder a corpse in Australia.
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