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Criminal Law Keyed to Kennedy
State of North Dakota v. Janice Leidholm
Citation:334 N.W.2d 811 (1983)
Early in the evening of August 6, 1981, the defendant and her husband, Chester, attended a gun club party in the city of Washburn where they both consumed a large amount of alcohol. On the return trip to the farm, an argument developed between the defendant and Chester which continued after their arrival home just after midnight. Once inside the home, the arguing did not stop; Chester was shouting, and the defendant was crying.
At one point in the fighting, the defendant tried to telephone Dave Vollan, a deputy sheriff of McLean County, but Chester prevented her from using the phone by shoving her away and pushing her down. At another point, the argument moved outside the house, and Chester once again was pushing the defendant to the ground. Each time the defendant attempted to get up, Chester would push her back again.
A short time later, the defendant and Chester re-entered their home and went to bed. When Chester fell asleep, the defendant got out of bed, went to the kitchen, and got a butcher knife. She then went back into the bedroom and stabbed Chester. In a matter of minutes Chester died from shock and loss of blood.
In its statement of the law of self-defense, the trial court instructed the jury: “The circumstances under which she acted must have been such as to produce in the mind of reasonably prudent persons, regardless of their sex, similarly situated, the reasonable belief that the other person was then about to kill her or do serious bodily harm to her.”
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