Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
A Texas man allegedly killed his mistress after she revealed to him that she was HIV positive.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Larry Dunn, 37, was cheating on his wife with Cicely Lee Bolden. Bolden told Dunn in September 2012 that she was HIV positive, prompting him to allegedly stab her to death with a steak knife. Her body was found by her 7- and 8-year-old children.
Murder is certainly a crime, but what about not disclosing your HIV status?
According to the Morning News, a Dallas police detective told jurors Tuesday that Dunn had originally denied involvement in Bolden's death, but later admitted he "was enraged" after learning she had HIV.
That alleged rage is important for a defendant like Dunn who faces a murder charge. First-degree murder can potentially be reduced to second degree murder if a jury believes he killed Bolden in a "sudden passion."
Similar to a "heat of passion" defense, a "sudden passion" is a way to mitigate what is otherwise an intentional murder. However, unlike many states, Texas law does not allow guilt or innocence to be decided based on the passion defense -- only the degree of punishment. There is no voluntary manslaughter charge in Texas.
If Dunn proves to a jury by preponderance of the evidence that his rage over being deceived and possibly infected with HIV immediately influenced him to kill Bolden, he may be able to avoid life in prison.
Much of Dunn's defense rests on whether concealing and then revealing one's HIV status is "adequate cause" for the sudden passion defense.
Many states have criminal HIV disclosure laws which punish the failure to disclose one's HIV status to sexual partners; in some cases, these laws can still apply even if the sexual partner is not infected.
Texas is an exception to this general rule and currently has no such law requiring HIV disclosure.
It can be repugnant to blame the victim in a murder case, but in this case, Dunn won't be able to rely on Texas criminal law to impugn the character of his alleged murder victim.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.