Criminal Law, Pages 479–481

Ross v. Mississippi

Supreme Court of Mississippi, 1992
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Facts:

Defendant knocked on the victim's door and asked for directions. The victim stepped outside and pointed out a neighbor who might be able to help him and turned to go back inside. Defendant then pointed a gun at her, ordered her inside, and shoved her onto her couch. He repeatedly told her to undress and threatened to kill her otherwise. The victim began crying and talking about how her seven-year old daughter would be home at any time and how the child's father had died. The defendant then said that if she had a little girl he would not do anything and he left.

Procedural History:

Defendant was convicted of attempted rape.

Issue:

Did defendant abandon his attack as a result of outside intervention?

Rule:

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[A]bandonment occurs where, through the verbal urging of the victim, but with no physical resistance or external intervention, the perpetrator changes his mind.

Defendant's Argument:

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"it was not ... Henley's resistance that prevented her rape nor any independent intervening cause or third person, but the voluntary and independent decision by her assailant to abandon his attack."

Prosecution's Argument:

Defendant panicked and drove away hastily.

Reasoning:

LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 481, Paragraph 3

According to the undisputed evidence, he left because he responded sympathetically to the victim's statement that she had a little girl. He did not fail in his attack. No one prevented him from completing it. Henley did not sound an alarm. She successfully persuaded Ross, of his own free will, to abandon his attempt. No evidence shows that Ross panicked and hastily drove away, but rather, the record shows that he walked the complainant out to the back of her trailer before he left.

Holding:

Yes, defendant abandoned his attack and is thus not guilty of attempted rape. Reversed.


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