Legal Analysis: People of Oceana v. Samantha Clark

Topics: Capital punishment, Supreme Court of the United States, Murder Pages: 5 (1457 words) Published: February 8, 2014
TO:Hon. Judge Colcort, Oceana Supreme Court
FROM:Kimberly Cromwell, Clerk to Hon. Judge Colcort, Oceana Supreme Court RE:In the Matter of People of Oceana v. Samantha Clark
DATE:January 29, 2014
Background of Clark Case
Samantha Clark, 45, in 1989, admittedly killed John Clark, after she discovered him in a homosexual act with Neil Brownfield, in plain view of the Clark's two minor children, aged seven and eight respectively.

Mrs. Clark, an ordained minister in the Real Life Church of God, and Mr. Clark, an ardent believer, entered into a relationship that they both believed to be a marriage, in 1980. The marriage, according to the custom of the Church, was conducted by traveling to a mountain top and proclaiming that they were husband and wife. During the following nine years, the Clark's lived together as "husband and wife" and the relationship produced two minor children.

A jury trial was held in which the jury considered both the guilt and innocence of Mrs. Clark; and the circumstances of the commission of the murder.
Mr. Clark leaves an estate of $300,000. The social worker testified that presently it will cost the state $5,000 per year, per child and that it would be impossible to place the two children together in the same foster home. The estimated costs to the state would be $50,000 and $55,000 (10 years for the 8 year; 11 years for the 7 year old) to provide for the Clark Children.

The Trial Court noted during the sentencing the costs to the state would be $15,000 to incarcerate Mrs. Clark, whose life expectancy would be 32 more years, or approximately $480,000 dollars. Facts

1. The Clarks lived together as "husband and wife" according to the tenants of the Real Life Church of God. The Clarks, according to the tenants of the Church, did travel to a mountaintop and proclaim themselves to be husband and wife. 2. There was no certificate of marriage filed with the State of Oceana. 3. Samantha Clark was an ordained minister of the Real Life Church of God. 4. John Clark was a believer but not a member of the Real Life Church of God. 5. The relationship produced two minor children, ages 8 and 7 at the time of murder. 6. Samantha Clark admits to the shooting of John Clark after catching him in homosexual act with Neil Brownfield, in front of the minor children. 7. John Clark and Neil Brownfield did engage in a homosexual relationship. 8. The tenants of the Real Life Church of God require absolute fidelity in the marital relationship and that parents have an absolute responsibility to protect their children. 9. The Estate of John Clark is $300,000; there was no evidence the estate would pass to Mrs. Clark. 10. A single trial was held to determine the guilt or innocence of Mrs. Clark, and the circumstances leading to the murder. Issues

1. Did the Court abuse it discretion by failing to bifurcate the trial between the finding of guilt or innocence; and the circumstances? 2. Did the Court abuse its discretion by not considering the jury's recommendation of leniency? 3. Did the Court abuse its discretion by only considering the costs of incarceration and not the costs of execution?

Legal Analysis
Samantha Clark ("Mrs. Clark) has been found guilty of the crime of murder of John Clark ("Mr. Clark"). Mrs. Clark admitted to the murder, claiming it was justified based on the tenants of her Church, which she is a minister and Mr. Clark was an "ardent believer"; and that as the married parents of the minor children, she was required by God to protect her children and preserve her family. The evidence does not show Mr. Clark as a member of the Church, but the evidence does demonstrate he was a believer and that he did live as the "husband" of Mrs. Clark.

The State of Oceana does not recognize "common law" marriages, and requires proof of marriage through a certificate. See C.C.C. § 145-7. There was no evidence presented of a legally recognized marriage.

The Rev. Crim. Statute § 320-1 of...
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