Violence, aggression and antisocial behavior dominate the family tree of Stephen Mobley, 29, a convicted murderer awaiting the death sentence in an American jail.
His uncles, aunts and grandfather were all affected and Mobley had a history of violent and criminal behavior from childhood before shooting dead a pizzeria manager in 1991. However, his family tree also contains several highly successful businessmen.
“There is a fine line between the aggressive success of the self-made businessman and the violent outrage of the criminal,” Dr. Deborah Denno, associate professor at the Fordham University School of Law, New York.
Lawyers acting for Mobley asked a court to allow him to undergo neurological tests to determine whether he was suffering from an imbalance of brain chemicals that may have contributed to his behavior. The court rejected the request on the ground that the influence of genes on criminal behavior was not yet scientifically accepted. The case has gone to appeal.
Dr. Denno said it was unlikely that the higher court would allow the appeal but she expected the principle of genetic influence to be admissible in court within five years.
“It is inconsistent to reject it when other medical factors about which we have limited knowledge are accepted”, she said and added: “A genetic abnormality could be compared to other sorts of biological factors which have been admitted as evidence into court”.
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Convicted killer seeks brain test