**Part of this article was previously published by this author on examiner.com as the Kaufman County Crime Examiner**
We all hear about murder on the local news, but what is murder really? This article will talk about some of the facts of murder that you may not know.
Murder is defined as “the crime of unlawfully killing a person with malice aforethought.”
A first degree murder means simply that the murder was premeditated and planned. In some states a first degree murder can also include the killing of a police officer or a murder committed during the act of kidnapping or a sexual assault.
Statistics have shown that nearly half of all murder victims actually knew their murderer. In fact, 20 percent of murders involve family members. So even though we hear the horror stories of serial killers, or random unsolved murders, your chances are much higher of being killed by someone you know, maybe even someone you love. 1 in 4 female murder victims are killed by their husband or boyfriend.
On average, according to FBI statistics, 44 Americans are murdered each day in this country. The United States has approximately 310 million citizens living here. 35 states have the death penalty, including Texas. Texas ranks #1 in death row executions in the United States.
In 2008, Texas had a murder rate of 5.6 for every 100,000 residents. The murder rate in Texas has steadily decreased since 1996 when the rate was 7.7 per 100,000 residents. In 2008 Texas ranked 20th of the 50 states for murders per capita.
Statistics are fine, they have their place, but murder is personal when it’s your family member or loved one that has been killed. My own family experienced the intentional killing of a loved one; the emotional devastation and the outrage as the murderer was instead convicted on “manslaughter”.
The justice system works most of the time, but not all of the time. If you have experienced the murder of a loved one, my strongest advice is to fight for the victim. Make sure the detective’s working the case, and the District Attorney assigned to the case, know that you want justice for your loved one. Cooperate with them in any way they ask.
If a suspect is brought to trial and convicted, write a letter to the judge in memory of the victim or stand before the court and let them know how the murder affected you and your family. Victims have rights, and if the victim is deceased it is up to their friends and family to fight for those rights. Fight.
Author’s personal experience as law enforcement officer and family member of murder victim.