Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot…which is why weather balloons strike terror into their hearts.
Well, not really, but Gotham again poses interesting legal questions in The Balloonman. The city is extremely corrupt, with police taking bribes and treating the Bill of Rights like it is an inconvenient obstacle to beating suspects. Throw in politicians on the take from the mob, a Cold War developing between crime bosses, plus the mayor illegally arresting children to be interned “upstate,” and it is no surprise a civil servant lost his mind. His weapon of choice to extract justice: weather balloons.
This might surprise you, but my legal research search for “weather balloon” w/p murder OR homicide OR manslaughter did not yield any search results. Apparently, no one has tried “balloonicide” in a capital case yet besides on the Prisoner.
That being said, killing the corrupt police officer would have been first degree murder in New York (assuming New York State since Gotham looks like Manhattan), because the suspect intended to cause the death of a police officer engaged in his official duties (which included beating another suspect, but that illegal act does not negate the fact the victim was a cop on the clock). NY CLS Penal § 125.27(1)(a)(i).
It’s Raining Men
What about the poor lady walking her dog that is killed after the balloon pops and the victim falls to Earth? Her death would be at least second degree murder, because the suspect intended to kill the police officer, causing his body to fall back to Earth, evidencing a “depraved indifference to human life” and recklessly engaging in conduct that caused a grave risk of death to the dog-walking victim. NY CLS Penal § 125.25(2).
There is no way the Balloonman could NOT have excepted weather balloons to fall back to Earth. Gravity is a law of physics that cannot be ignored. The fact the Balloonman was launching human beings somewhere between 60,000 to 105,000 feet into the air would mean the bodies would fall that distance in return (also the velocity of a 180 pound person in free fall from 60,000 traveling at 9.81 meters a second would likely leave a crater). This conduct showed a “depraved indifference to human life” and would be enough for a jury to convict the Balloonman for second degree murder of the woman walking her dog.