Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

Dr. Dwayne Smith.

Co-Major Professor

Dr. John Cochran

Keywords

Capital punishment, Victim-offender relationships, Death sentence, Murder, Aggravating circumstances

Abstract

This study is an investigation of whether familial relationships among offenders and their victims affect capital sentencing. Using a sample of capital cases from North Carolina restricted to familial homicides, logistic regression models are used while controlling for legal and extra-legal factors that influence decision outcomes. Such models of capital sentencing are developed to (1) determine whether familial-victim cases have unique correlates; and (2) whether there are variations in the effects of these correlates across gender. Contradictory to these hypotheses, results suggest that acquaintance and stranger relationships are less likely to receive a capital outcome when compared to familial relationships. Therefore, in North Carolina it appears that familial relationships receive capital outcomes more frequently than other types of victim-offender relationships.

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