Los Angeles, August 1994.

Kyle Rayner returns home to his flat to find a note about a surprise in the fridge, signed A. The door to the same is left ajar. Inside he discovers the remains of his girlfriend, the photographer Alexandra DeWitt.

Green Lantern (Volume 3) #54 (1994)

Autopsy shows that she was strangled to death and the body was forcefully made fit into the fridge post mortem. Other evidence points to a fight that had happened between the woman and her murderer, and Clifford Zmeck was encountered by Mr. Rayner at the scene. Mr. Zmek claims to be the perpetrator and threatens Mr. Rayner to "kill you nice and quick" for cooperating, implicating that he'd kill him anyway.

Mrs. Rayner and Zmek get into a fight, which destroys, among other things, a sizeable portion of Mr. Rayner's house.

Mr. Zmek is a US national and member of the airforce, convicted of murder and rape and sentenced to life in prison. In exchange for a pardon, he underwent experimental surgery in a federal experimental weapons program for the Vietnam War. During the experiment, he was outfitted with bombs under the skin. One such charge has led to the amputation of his left hand. After the lockdown of the program, Mr. Zmek became a mercenary. He was paid to extract an item from Mr. Rayner and information from Ms. DeWitt. We assume that this was not a governmental organization that paid him.

Which variant of murder and what other charges can be brought against Mr. Zmek, assuming Mr. Rayner manages to detain him in a citizen's arrest?

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    Zmek could try to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and enter the experimental program into evidence. Anticipating this could influence the prosecution towards a very quiet plea bargain.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 13:28
  • 1
    Would you like to describe your own research efforts so far? Have you read California's murder statutes? Are there particular elements in those statutes that you have questions about whether they would be satisfied and why? Commented May 1, 2021 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


Assuming that the above can be established by admissible evidence, that sounds like a case for first degree murder, and probably various other crimes as well. In some jurisdictions there is a specific crime of "Murder for hire" which might also apply if available on the jurisdiction where this occurred.

A comment mentions a possible insanity defense. That is going to depend on detailed facts not included in the question, but might be possible.

  • 1
    You might also have charges of assault and battery (with Mr. Rayner as the victim), depending on the circumstances of this "fight" and relevant law (at the very least, a credible and specific death threat probably counts as a simple assault, or whatever California calls it). Possibly also something involving the damage to the house, if that can be legally attributed to Mr. Zmek's actions.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 21:17

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