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May 18, 2016

"Sentencing phase: did heredity play part in serial killer’s crimes?"

It is often said that the sins of the father should not befall the son, but an on-going capital case in Ohio suggests that at least one defendant is hoping the sins of his father and grandfather and great-grandfather might help keep him off death row. The title of this post is the headline of this local story which provides these details:

Was heredity to blame for the violent crimes of convicted serial killer, Michael Madison? A Cuyahoga County jury was presented with that possibility in the courtroom of Judge Nancy McDonnell on Tuesday.

Dr. Mark Cunningham, a clinical and forensic psychologist from the state of Washington, testified heredity was an aspect of sexual offending. "There is patterning within these family systems,” he said, “They found that having a brother or father who had been convicted of a sexual offense increased the odds of being convicted of a sexual offense four to five fold.”

Cunningham prepared a diagram showing the history of Madison’s family dating back to his great-grandfather. The chart illustrated how the serial killer’s relatives preyed on each other physically and sexually, including their own children. Social Service records and interviews with Madison’s family revealed he was abused for years by his mother and her boyfriends.

"The way that he was treated is the template of how he then goes about interacting with others throughout his life,” said Cunningham, “It's a core principle that the FBI's behavioral science unit identified as they looked at the histories of sexual homicide offenders and observed that the quality of attachments to parents and other members of the family during childhood is central to how the child will relate to and value other members of society.”

The 37-year-old was convicted of raping and murdering Angela Deskins, Shetisha Sheeley and Shirellda Terry, all of East Cleveland. Their bodies were found near his East Cleveland apartment in July of 2013.

May 18, 2016 at 08:43 AM | Permalink


That is pretty much the norm in capital cases anyhow. Some mental disorders have a potential genetic component and others have an environmental component. As a result, defense attorneys will introduce a significant amount of evidence about the family's history of mental disease and other problems to bolster any diagnosis of mental disease in their client or simply as a mitigating factor of what a bad childhood their client had.

Posted by: tmm | May 18, 2016 10:39:40 AM

Perhaps it's for the better, but it's interesting to note the change in moral calculus over the years. In the past a plea for leniency would be "He's a good boy from a good family." Now the argument is exactly the opposite!

Posted by: Boffin | May 18, 2016 2:53:26 PM

That why I argue for the nursing program for at-risk mothers, or the Nurse-Family Partnership: Home Visits by Nurses to Low-Income First-Time Mothers Yield Enduring Benefits.

It may make a difference that I sincerely like nurses miles better then the prison guard union: California Prison Guards Union Pushes For Prison Expansion.

The nursing program would shrink prisons. The prison guards want to expand them.

Posted by: George | May 18, 2016 9:57:16 PM

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