The long arm of the law moves slowly in Denver, Colorado, or so it seems. Robert Feldman allegedly killed his wife three years ago and then helped himself to a $751,910 pay out as the sole beneficiary of his wife’s insurance policy.
It took all that time for the police to file first a degree murder charge, and bring Robert Feldman to court. A trial-within-a-trial followed concerning how he was paying for his defence in terms of the Colorado Slayer Statute.
What the Colorado Slayer Statute Says
The Colorado Slayer Statute addresses the matter of how a homicide affects the killer’s rights in terms of intestate succession, wills, trusts, joint assets, life insurance, and beneficiary designations. In headline terms, it says a person guilty of a felonious killing, or who admits guilt may not benefit financially.
However, a petition in this regard must be brought within three years of the death. A qualifying judgement of conviction includes “a plea of guilty or nolo contendere no defence, or a judgment of conviction on a verdict of guilty by the court or by a jury”.
The Pertinent Details Behind This Case
Robert Feldman used the proceeds from his wife’s life insurance policy to pay his lawyers after he was charged with first-degree murder in the 2015 slaying of his wife, A lower probate court found his action legal, whereafter the deceased’s children took the matter on appeal to the Colorado supreme court.
The case revolved around the Colorado Slayer Statute, in particular whether a person charged with first degree murder is, or is not entitled to his victim’s life insurance pay out.
That is because said statute bars anyone from gaining any “financial benefit from another’s estate if they are held criminally responsible for causing the death” according to Daily Mail.Com. The Colorado supreme court made an interesting ruling in this regard.
The Court Said the Statute Does Not Apply to a Third Party
The Colorado supreme court decided “the statute does not to apply to a third party – in this case a legal defence team – that is paid for a legally enforceable obligation.” Therefore the $555,000 Robert Feldman paid his attorneys is outside the jurisdiction of the statute.
That’s because, in the opinion of that court the statute “does not expressly address the question of freezing insurance proceeds until it can be determined…whether the person receiving the payment was entitled to receive it or not.”
This was despite an expert medical opinion testifying “the victim died from a violent assault and strangulation” as stated in the arrest warrant affidavit.
The Balancing Test Applied by the Court
A legal expert told Daily Mail.Com the children lost out in the balancing test applied by the supreme court. “When there is tension between civil rights and the criminal rights of an accused, the courts often emphasize the need for a fair trial and the panoply of rights afforded a criminal defendant,” he explained.
That includes a presumption of innocence, he added. The law may be always right under its own rules. However, this does not eliminate the possibility of it being a giddy ass at times.