When Domestic Goes Capital: Juror Decision Making in Capital Murder Trials Involving Domestic Homicide
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Type of Work14 pages
Citation of Original PublicationRichards, T. N., Smith, M. D., Fogel, S. J., & Bjerregaard, B. (2015). When Domestic Goes Capital: Juror Decision Making in Capital Murder Trials Involving Domestic Homicide. Law and Human Behavior, 39(4), 402-415.
jury decision making
offender victim relationship
Prior research suggests that homicide cases involving familial offenders and victims are subject to a "domestic discount" that reduces sentencing severity. However, the operation of a domestic discount in regard to death penalty sentencing has been rarely examined. The current research uses a near-population of jury decisions in capital murder trials conducted in North Carolina from 1991 to 2009 (n = 800), and a series of logistic regression analyses to determine whether there is (a) a direct effect between offender-victim relationship (e.g., domestic, friend/acquaintance, and stranger) and jury decision making, and/or (b) whether domestic offender-victim relationship (as well as other offender-victim relationships) moderates the effect of legal and extralegal case characteristics on jury assessment of the death penalty. Our findings revealed no empirical support for a "domestic discount" whereby juries are less likely to impose death sentences in cases involving domestic homicides. However, substantial differences in predictors of death sentencing were found across offender-victim dyads; most notably, domestic homicide cases demonstrated the most legalistic model of jury decisions to impose death sentences.