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The Language of Murder CasesIntentionality, Predisposition, and Voluntariness$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199354832

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199354832.001.0001

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Voluntariness of Mentally Incapacitated Suspects

Voluntariness of Mentally Incapacitated Suspects

(p.133) 7 Voluntariness of Mentally Incapacitated Suspects
The Language of Murder Cases

Roger W. Shuy

Oxford University Press

This chapter briefly outlines the history of the courts’ efforts to deal with mentally incapacitated suspects and then describes three murder cases involving suspects with varying degrees of mental incapacitation: Florida v. Jerry Townsend (severely incapacitated), Michigan v. Benjamin Hauswirth (moderately incapacitated), and Alaska v. Larry Gentry (mildly incapacitated). Although linguists are not qualified to provide opinions about mental incapacitation, analysis of the language used can offer linguistic support for opinions made by specialists in psychology. At issue in all three of these cases was the degree to which the three men voluntarily produced the language evidence used against them versus the clear evidence of law enforcement’s language manipulations to make them appear guilty.

Keywords:   mental incapacitation, psychological opinions, linguistic opinions, voluntariness, severe incapacitation, moderate incapacitation, mild incapacitation, police interviews, trial testimony

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