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Opening Arguments Given in Ditz Trial; Disagreement Over Intention
The question they differ on is: Was the shooting intentional or not?
Defense attorney Adam Bishop says “No,” while Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron says “Yes.”
“We are not asking you to find (Ditz) not guilty,” Bishop told the jury during opening arguments on Tuesday morning at the Clarion County Courthouse.
“We want you to hold him criminally responsible for the only charge applicable in this case, involuntary manslaughter. There was nothing malicious (about the shooting). He didn’t intend to shoot her. But, carelessness led to an unintentional discharge.”
Aaron, on the other hand, contended that Ditz, 23, pointed the gun at Seaburn and shot her over a dispute regarding $130.00 he lent to a relative.
“Damien Ditz became angry about money, took a Glock 45, waved it at (Seaburn) with his finger in the trigger guard and shot her,” Aaron said in his opening argument. “A bullet went through both lungs into her heart killing her almost instantly.”
Prior to the opening arguments by the attorneys, Judge James Arner had instructed the jury that there were five ways the case could be decided.
- Not Guilty
- Guilty of First-Degree Murder
- Guilty of Third-Degree Murder
- Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter
- Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter
According to Arner, Pennsylvania law says that malice must be proven to distinguish murder from manslaughter.
According to statelaws.findlaw.com, to prove malice in a murder case a prosecutor “must show the defendant’s general intent to commit an unlawful act or achieve a harmful result.”
Arner told the jury that Murder One consists of the intent to kill and is willful, deliberate and premeditated. He said Murder Three is the wanted, willful disregard of conduct disregarding the serious risk that is being taken.
He went on to say that Voluntary Manslaughter can happen in the heat of passion following provocation, while Involuntary Manslaughter is an unintentional killing that is the result of recklessness or criminal negligence.
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