I bring you an utterly bizarre case from across the pond to exercise your brain today.
Just outside Windham, south west of Bangor in the state of Maine lived a man called ‘Skip’ Kilmartin. He was what we term in the UK a ‘care in the community case’. Following an assault on an elderly man in 2007 he had been found ‘not criminally responsible’ for his behaviour; and whilst living in the community he was legally in the custody of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Whilst under the care and control of the Maine equivalent to our mental health authorities, Kilmartin thought he might as well live up to his name…
Kilmartin purchased 100 grams of industrial grade potassium cyanide, often used for electroplating, from a firm of jewellers supplies in California. He set up a web page advertising himself as the ‘angel of death’, offering a ‘quick and painless death’. As you do.
Two months later, please note, sad and depressed Andrew Denton answered that advertisement in Hull, England. ‘Yes please’ he said, wiring Kilmartin $250 for just one gram of the cyanide. For some inexplicable reason, Kilmartin didn’t part with any of his 100 grams of potassium cyanide, he sent Andrew a gram of Epsom Salts.
Andrew took himself off to a nearby hotel and drank what he thought was a fatal dose of cyanide.
A few days later, Andrew, disappointed to still be alive, did what any self respecting consumer does when the product received doesn’t live up to its advertising – he complained to the ‘Internet Crime Complaint Center’ demanding his money back. His e-mail came to the attention of the FBI.
You might imagine that at this point, the mental health authorities in charge of Kilmartin might have swiftly locked him up before he killed someone – but it seems not.
Instead, the FBI charged Kilmartin with mail fraud and wire fraud, using evidence included emails between Kilmartin and Denton and others, the packages sent to Denton and others that contained Epsom salts, receipts for Western Union money wires, deposits to Kilmartin’s credit union account and the online complaint filed by Denton with the FBI.
What’s a man to do when the FBI hold irrefutable evidence that he had advertised potassium cyanide but only sent Epsom Salts? Mr Kilmartin’s brain, working on impeccable logic, decided that the only thing to do was to send the man the product he had asked for in the first place.
Mr Denton duly received the potassium cyanide and successfully killed himself. Poor man, but it was always his intention.
The FBI promptly charged Kilmartin with witness tampering – for he had just been responsible for their loss of a witness in the mail fraud case based on not sending him the right product in the first place…
Fortunately they still had three other unhappy customers who hadn’t received a ‘noxious product’ through the mail. With the aid of those three unhappy customers, they successfully prosecuted Kilmartin for wire fraud and mail fraud.
They added another charge too – sending a noxious substance through the mail to Andrew Denton…
Martin Ridge, for the defence, said Kilmartin had admitted defrauding people but was not responsible for his customer’s death. “Mr Denton died in the exact manner he wished to die. Mr Denton’s death was caused by Mr Denton’s actions,” he said.
Of course, had Mr Denton not died from the eventually correctly supplied potassium cyanide, they would have added a fourth charge of defrauding Denton of the potassium cyanide.
The judge is still deliberating on the ‘witness tampering’ charge.
I can’t get my head round it. Under the US postal regulations – Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail, Publication 52 at 187 (July 1999) and Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail, Publication 52 at 227 (Dec. 2012) the “basic premise of the postal mailability laws is that anything which may kill or injure another is nonmailable.”
So how come the Californian jewellers suppliers aren’t also being done for sending the 100 grams to ‘the Angel of Death’?