The Curious Case of RONALD OPUS – A Bizzare Legal Case

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.
Here is the Case:

On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide. He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

“Ordinarily,” Dr Mills continued, “A person, who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide.” That Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun. The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Mr. Opus. When one intends to kill subject “A” but kills subject “B” in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject “B”. 

When confronted with the murder charge the old man and his wife were both adamant and both said that they thought the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said it was a long standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, if the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple’s son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn’t actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist. 

Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother’s murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window. The son had actually murdered himself, so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.  

A true story from Associated Press. Reported by Kurt Westervelt.

Mark Zuckerberg Turns Investigator

One by one, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has driven away his cofounders and close confidants. The latest to go: chief financial officer Gideon Yu.

Now Zuckerberg is tracking who has leaked the email memo sent to CFO and you can see his instigative tactics in the email… Please read the email carefully…

Catch the differences? One says “will report,” the other says “will be reporting.” One uses treasurer Cipora Herman’s last name, the other omits it. One says “we are fortunate,” while the other uses the contracted form “we’re.” And one says Peter Currie will be “an advisor,” while the other says only “advisor.”

That’s not the only oddity about the email. “Several versions I got of this memo had different punctuation in various places,” Swisher notes in an update.


Hey Everyone–

Today ends the first quarter of 2009, so I wanted to send out an update on our growth and financial progress, as well as a couple of changes we are making.

Our user growth has been extraordinary over the past year and has continued to be strong throughout Q1. We are getting very close to reaching our 200 millionth active user. This is pretty remarkable considering we just reached 100 million actives a little more than seven months ago. We have become the top site for sharing information on the web, and this gives us a good strategic position to help people share even more.

I am also pleased that our financial progress has been very strong as well. While we came into this year wondering how the recession might affect us, our financial performance in the first quarter surpassed our expectations. As other businesses around us are slowing down and cutting back, we continue to grow around the world. Our advertising products are becoming more attractive for advertisers and we have seen strong growth in both our domestic and international direct sales and online sales channels.

Even in the current economic environment, we are confident that this success will continue. Based on our first quarter results, we now believe we are on track to see our revenue grow by at least 70% this year. We just completed our fifth straight quarter of EBITDA profitability. And most importantly, we expect to achieve free cash flow profitability next year. That’s an important measure of financial success and sustainability because it means we’d be able to fund all of our operations and server purchases from the cash we generate while increasing our cash reserves in the bank. Hitting these numbers will require continued hard work, discipline and execution by everyone here at Facebook, but we are on the path to achieve these goals.

As we ramp up to take on these challenges, I want to let you know that Gideon Yu will be leaving the company. Gideon has played an important role in helping us achieve our financial success, building a strong finance team and establishing the core financial operations of our company. I will always be grateful to Gideon for his contributions to Facebook and what we are trying to accomplish. As those of you who know him know, Gideon’s family is his highest priority and it’s certainly not the usual cliché to say that he plans to take some time off to be with his wife and son. Gideon and I have often discussed that the next stage of his career will likely be as an investor, and I fully support him in this regard.

We have retained Spencer Stuart to search for a new CFO and we will be looking for someone with public company experience who can help take us to the next stage in our growth.

In the interim, the finance team will report to Cipora Herman in her capacity as Treasurer and Ted Ullyot as mteam lead. In addition, [Facebook is] fortunate that Peter Currie, the former CFO for Netscape, has agreed to serve as the advisor to Facebook until a new CFO comes on board.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me or to others on mteam if you have any questions about our finance plans or organization. I’ll discuss this more at the Q&A on Friday and I will be happy to take questions then too.

Congratulations to everyone on a great start to the year and on all the momentum you have all helped build for the rest of 2009.