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Facing murder charges as a female in Pennsylvania

Serial killers, in particular female serial killers, have long fascinated many Pennsylvanians and other Americans. Although more men than women have been accused of committing multiple murders, women can and do face similar charges of serial killings.

A 19-year-old-woman is the latest individual who supposedly participated in the murder of multiple people. Pennsylvania prosecutors claim that the woman and her husband met a man on the website Craigslist and then killed him. Prosecutors claim that the woman stabbed the purported victim 20 times while her husband held a cord around the man's neck. Allegedly, the accused confessed to killing over 20 other people around the country. The woman says she was abused as a child and joined a satantic cult at age 13 where she supposedly participated in her first homicide.

Those facing murder charges in Pennsylvania may be intimidated by the commonwealth's tough laws and the seemingly endless resources of the prosecution. Fortunately, those accused of first degree and other murder charges may have several viable defenses. If charged with first degree murder, the accused could argue that he or she lacked the mental capacity required to form the intent to kill. If successful, the accused may not be relieved of all criminal liability, but the charges and the consequences may be reduced. The accused could also claim that the killing occurred in self-defense or the as the result of battered women's syndrome. Duress may also be a defense to murder charges.

Developing and executing a strong criminal defense can allow those accused of crimes in Pennsylvania to have their charges reduced or even dropped entirely. The accused's strategy will depend on the unique facts of his or her case.

Source: USA Today, "Is Pa. case the latest to involve a female serial killer?" William M. Welch, Feb. 18, 2014

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