AV Preeminent
The Florida Bar

Murder-Suicide Rocks South Florida

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys have noted an increase in reported “murder suicide” case in Broward and Fort Lauderdale Dade Counties over the last decade. No prosecution in such cases ever ensues for obvious reasons and efforts to deter such crime have yielded no statistical changes.

Investigators in Broward County, Florida have determined that Jessica Kalish was murdered by her former lover, Carol Anne Burger. Burger committed suicide before she could be arrested. Kalish, the 56-year-old woman found dead one week ago in Boynton Beach, was stabbed over 200 times in the head with a screwdriver before Burger abandoned her body in the backseat of Kalish’s BMW. Burger, who was 57, apparently murdered Kalish in a fit of rage on October 22, dumped her body and wallet, and tried to hide the evidence.

Police used chemicals and ultraviolet light to illuminate blood spatters Burger cleaned up in the residence the former couple shared. Based on the amount of blood in the garage, investigators believe Kalish was stabbed to death there. Burger subsequently cleaned up the area and washed her clothes, leaving tiny traces of Kalish’s blood behind.

Kalish and Burger were married in Massachusetts in 2000. They broke up about a year ago, but continued sharing a home. Their relationship continued to deteriorate to the point that the women fought frequently, ultimately leading the murder-suicide.

Had Burger been arrested prior to her suicide, she could have faced the death penalty if prosecutors believed she deliberated before the murder.

Florida is one of 36 states that allows capital punishment. Since capital punishment was reinstated in the 1970s, Florida has executed 66 people, all of them men. Currently, nearly 400 people are on death row in the state. Some sentences have later been reduced to life in prison without parole and 22 people in Florida alone have been freed due because they were innocent of the murders for which they were convicted. The governor has granted clemency just six times. A criminal defendant in Florida who is convicted of a serious crime can be sentenced to death even if his co-defendant was the one who killed someone during their crime. Convicts on death row may choose between electrocution or lethal injection.

Alternatively, Burger might have faced manslaughter charges. Voluntary manslaughter is killing a person wrongly, but doing so under circumstances that do not allow for reflection. Sometimes, people are convicted of manslaughter if they kill another person in the “heat of passion,” when they are so upset they could not reasonably have been expected to cool down. Involuntary manslaughter, which could not apply to this scenario, is the killing of a person through extremely reckless or negligent behavior.

If you have been arrested in Florida, contact William Moore, P.A., which has experienced south Florida criminal defense lawyers with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

Police: Ex-lover killed woman in rage in Boynton Beach, Fort Lauderdale Post, October 29, 2009

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