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This week in ’88: Murder for Hire Charges Dismissed

Murder for Hire Charges Dismissed

James R. Houchin stopped by right after we’d finished last week’s edition. He had with him a copy of Judge R. D. McPhillips’ order releasing him.

Houchin had, along with DeBoar, been busted for ‘conspiracy to commit the offense of Deliberate Homicide’. As McPhillips noted, “the person to be killed was a fictitious person and did not in fact exist.”

The Judge explained that “the attempt statute… provides that impossibility for the accused to commit the defense is not a defense.” and that conspirators must act with “the purpose that an offense be committed.” He ended that paragraph with “It is not possible to kill a person that doesn’t exist, or is already dead when the conspirators make their agreement.”

Judge McPhillips ruled that, since deliberate homicide “requires the causing of adeath of a human being. A human being is defined as a person who has been born and is alive. In this case the person to be killed does not exist. The requirement that a offense be factually possible is built into the statute.

McPhillips decision didn’t rule on guilt or innocense –He determined that, so far as Montana is concerned, you can conspire to kill imaginary people or dead people toyour heart’s content. Since the offense is impossible to commit, there is no crime in the conspiracy.

Houchin expressed intent to sue the county for the inconvenience of his 38 days incarceration over this non-crime.

Want to learn more? It’s actually possible to find details about the State v. Houchin case online.

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