Experts: Court Ruling Pushes WVa Into Mainstream

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- Experts say the West Virginia Supreme Court's decision overturning the murder conviction of a woman who killed her husband after a severe beating aligns state law with most of America.

Before the ruling, West Virginia University Law School Dean Joyce McConnell and others say case law on self-defense in domestic violence cases placed the state among a distinct minority.

But the decision overturning Cabell County resident Tanya Harden's conviction pushed West Virginia into line with other states.

The court ruled evidence of prior abuse and threats may negate elements of the crime of murder.

The justices likewise ruled evidence of previous threats and abuse is relevant to a defendant's state of mind and that a person attacked at home by a cohabitant can use deadly force if facing death or serious injury.

(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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