Deborah Tuerkheimer

87 Texas L. Rev. See Also 117

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In this comment, Professor Tuerkheimer advances the notion of “control killings,” or viewing domestic violence homicide as the final act in a pattern of various forms of abusive conduct.

She begins by noting that the Supreme Court evinced a fairly sophisticated understanding of domestic violence as a pattern of conduct in Giles, but that it was still wanting in some respects.  The Court overlooks the centrality of power and control to the batterer’s design, and so fails to capture the true essence of battering.  Next, she focuses on Professor Lininger’s third per se rule—inferring intent to silence a victim  from a history of abuse and isolation.  This, she says, raises the complex issues that need to be addressed properly.  Professor Lininger suggests that the inquiry under this rule would properly be to quantify the amount of domestic violence necessarily entailing an intent to silence the victim, but Professor Tuerkheimer is not convinced.  She believes that the aim should be to focus on demystifying the connection between the murder and the past abuse.  This would require lower courts to recognize that the central feature of domestic violence is power/control and that homicide in this context is the ultimate act of control.  She then proceeds to provide evidence that the central feature of domestic violence is power or control over the victim, including conduct other than acts of physical violence.  Finally, Professor Tuerkheimer concludes that in the forfeiture context courts should be concerned whether the defendant has, through all of his battering conduct, acted to reinforce the victim’s connection to him, fortifying her reluctance to ally herself with the state against him in a prosecution.