The Blog Squad

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Premeditated or not, Fawley's crime is hideous

I'm not going to pretend to be schooled enough in the law to understand the finer points of the amended charges against Ben Fawley in the Taylor Behl murder case. But I found it interesting that prosecutors have changed the charges to omit the "willful premeditation" piece. A couple days earlier I was talking with a friend who said there was a lot of talk within law enforcement that the first-degree murder charge was the wrong one. My friend felt that there was no way they could prove that charge, especially since there seems to be so little forensic evidence. Plus, Fawley's story sounds like it could be true. If Behl was having a consensual physical relationship with Fawley and she may have been playing dangerous games -- in every sense of the word -- then this could be a likely scenario. And Fawley, who seems like an emotionally stunted teenager, just might be the type to freak out and decide the best thing to do is dump her body.
There is that account from Fawley's ex-roommate in Style. Though Fawley seems to have spent a few hours in his room "recovering" from that phony abduction he claimed to have been the victim of, he seems to have pulled it together pretty quickly.

I'm bewildered and frightened now at how smoothly Ben carried on, knowing that a few hours earlier, he'd pitched Taylor's body into a ravine in Mathews County. After rising from the couch, he spent hours that day on the phone with technicians trying to solve my computer problems, several times bending at the waist to clutch his stomach and groan loudly before rising to verify configurations, pull up dialog boxes, check and uncheck options. He didn't drive, so a few days later he asked a female friend to take us to the warehouse store where I'd made the purchase, and he loaded the monstrous box into her sports car. Ben is small. I was concerned that the box was a struggle, but he dismissed any idea that he needed help. ...

I've since looked back on the immensity of the box and the apparent ease with which he hoisted it. I've wondered how much Taylor weighed.

You would think someone who accidentally killed someone he supposedly cared about and then made the reprehensible decision to dump her body would be so racked with guilt and emotion that he wouldn't be able to function. The detached coolness with which he carried on -- having friends over, handing out fliers, even commiserating with Behl's mother -- sounds sociopathic, but is it enough to have proved premeditation?

Ultimately, though, these are legal nuances -- first-degree, second-degree, premeditation. It means a great deal in the court room but not much out here in the real world. To anyone with any common sense, we see very little distinction between someone who would plan to kill you and dump your body and someone who would accidentally kill you ... and dump your body.


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