This week, an Ohio man was found guilty of aggravated murder- after stabbing, suffocating and dismembering his girlfriend. Before being found guilty, in a bizarre twist, the man accused his deceased girlfriend of begging him to kill her. He claims that he found a text on her phone that indicated that she was going to have him killed and she then insisted that he kill her. He claims he held a knife above her stomach, which she "grabbed and pulled into her stomach." Her last words to her boyfriend were reportedly, "I still love you and I forgive you."
The man isn't the only one convicted of charges involving the murder- two other couples received sentences for obstructing justice, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. The boyfriend received a life sentence for the crime he committed.
The Ohio resident's plea was initially "not guilty by reason of insanity" but he changed his plea after he was found mentally healthy. Before being sentenced, the man asserted that he still loved his deceased girlfriend to which the judge asked, "How could you kill and butcher someone you love?" He responded with, "That's what I'm still trying to figure out." In California, what factors render a murder to be "aggravated?"
- If the murder was heinous, atrocious, cruel or depraved (involving torture)
- If the murder occurred during the commission or escape from a specified felony (robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, arson, oral copulation, train wrecking, carjacking, criminal gang activity, drug dealing, or aircraft piracy)
- The murder was committed from a motor vehicle
- The defendant murdered more than one person or attempted to
- The defendant lay in wait to kill the victim
- The murder was committed in order for the defendant to receive something of value
- The murder was committed to prevent arrest or effect escape
- The defendant was convicted for a previous murder or felony charge
- The victim was a government employee
- The victim was an appointed official or previously appointed official of the federal government
- The murder was committed against a witness
- The murder was a hate crime- committed because of someone's race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin
- The defendant committed treason
While all murder charges are serious, you especially don't want to be charged with "aggravated murder" as this charge tends to come with harsher penalties. For instance, recently a gang member was sentenced to five life terms (156 years without parole) for aggravated murders after killing two rival gang members as well as three other individuals. The aggravating factors present included "use of firearms" and "actions in furtherance of a criminal street gang."