The tales we tell : exploring the legal stories of Queensland women who kill

Robertson-Stainsby, Debra (2011) The tales we tell : exploring the legal stories of Queensland women who kill. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The bulk of the homicide research to date has focused on male offending, with little consideration given to women's offending and in particular, their constructions within the courtroom following a homicide-related charge. This thesis examines, in detail, nineteen homicide cases finalised in the Queensland Supreme Courts between 01/01/1997 and 31/12/2002, in order to document and discuss the various legal stories available to women who kill.
Predominantly, two “stock stories” are available within the court. The first, presented by the defence, offers the accused woman a victimised position to occupy. Evidence of victimisation is made available through previous abuse, expert testimony from psychologists and psychiatrists, challenges to her mental health, or appeals to her emotional nature. The second stock story, presented by the prosecution, positions the accused woman as angry, full of revenge, calculating and self serving. Such a script is usually supported by witnesses, police evidence, and family members. This thesis examines these competing and contradictory scripts using thematic discourse analysis to examine the court transcripts in detail. It argues that the "truth" of the fatal incident is based on one of these two prevailing scripts.
This research destabilises the dominant script of violent female offending in the feminist literature. Most research to date has focussed on explaining the circumstances in which women kill, concentrating attention on the victimisation of the violent offending woman and negating or de-prioritising any volition on her part. By analysing all transcripts of women whose trials were held within the specified period, this research is able to demonstrate the stories used to describe their complex offending, and draw attention to the anger and intent that can occur alongside the victimisation.

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ID Code: 45486
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Carpenter, Belinda, Dwyer, Angela, & Jeffries, Samantha
Keywords: murder, Queensland, women, legal cases
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2011 05:20
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2011 05:20

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