August 31, 2015

Minnie Dean's Trial

Sophie Davis, Victoria University of Wellington, has published Hung Out to Dry? Questioning the Legality of Southland Baby-Farmer Minnie Dean’s 1895 Murder Trial and Execution as Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper, Student/Alumni Paper No. 30. Here is the abstract.
In 1895 Minnie Dean became the only New Zealand woman to receive the death penalty. In the Invercargill Supreme Court she was found guilty of the murder of Dorothy Edith Carter, a child Minnie had recently adopted, who was found buried in her garden alongside two other infants. Branded a vindictive baby-farmer, Minnie Dean was widely condemned by the New Zealand press and public during the four months between her arrest and execution. This paper will assess whether, amongst the mania, Minnie was afforded a fair criminal trial and sentencing. It will be argued that while Minnie’s fate was largely predetermined from the moment of her arrest, against 1895 legal standards, correct criminal procedure was generally followed. Despite this, when comparing her trial and sentencing with contemporaneous murder trials, it is evident that Minnie Dean received no procedural clemency.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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