Karen Page on Daredevil is a case study in self-defense. If you have not watched the entire series, stop reading now.
James Wesley, the Kingpin’s chief enforcer, kidnapped Karen Page as she was entering her building. Wesley drugged Page and took her to a warehouse. This definitely was at least kidnapping in the second degree, which defines kidnapping as the act of abducting another person. NY CLS Penal § 135.20.
Page awoke sitting in a chair at a table. Wesley placed a loaded gun on the center of the table as a threat. Wesley offered Page a job to renounce her criticisms on the Kingpin. Wesley threatened to kill Ben Urich, Matt Murdock, Franklin Nelson, and basically everyone else Page knew if she did not accept.
Page’s solution: grab gun when Wesley’s phone rang and shoot Wesley multiple times until dead. There was a pause between the first shot before firing repeatedly.
Did Karen Page act in self-defense or did she murder James Wesley?
Self-defense under New York law permits the “use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself, herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by such other person.” NY CLS Penal § 35.15(1).
There are substantial factors that limit the use of force, such as the defendant being the one to provoke the victim or was the initial aggressor. NY CLS Penal § 35.15(1)(a) and (b).
Lawyers arguing self-defense need to prove the use of force was both what a reasonable person would do and justifiable from the defendant’s subjective state of mind. (See, Justification —What Is Reasonable Belief?, by Alan D. Marrus, Acting Supreme Court Justice, Kings County, New York. General Editor, John M. Castellano, Esq., Member of New York Bar, NY CLS Penal § 35.15, Practice Insights). As such, Judge Alan D. Marrus explained:
To pass the subjective test, counsel will probably need to call the defendant as a witness to testify as to his state of mind when he committed the criminal act. The defendant’s testimony would be able to establish how the defendant perceived the situation, e.g. what he saw the victim doing, what he heard the victim saying, what he knew about the victim’s propensity for violence, and the fear the defendant experienced about an imminent danger to himself or another.
Karen Page has a very strong argument she acted in self-defense both objectively and subjectively. First, she had been drugged and kidnapped. Second, Wesley placed a gun on the table where he could use the weapon on her. Third, Wesley made a verbal threat that she and all of her friends would be butchered if she did not submit to Wesley’s demands to effectively live in captivity indefinitely.
Karen Page subjectively could believe she was in mortal danger given the fact one man had already been murdered in her apartment, that she had been framed for that murder, and that an assassin had already been sent to hill her once before. Moreover, multiple other people had been killed already in the Kingpin’s conspiracy.
The facts against Page are that she paused after firing the first shot. Wesley had been seriously injured after Page shot him at close range. It appeared she verified the gun was actually loaded and thought before firing multiple times. Wesley was physically unable to threaten Page after the first shot. Opening fire on Wesley looks like premeditated murder.
The arguments against Page murdering Wesley is that she had been kidnapped and Wesley had the power to order her death if he was still alive. Page was very aware of the prior murder attempt on her life by the Kingpin’s assassin who had committed “suicide” in jail. Objectively from the facts, and subjectively from the threat made directly against Page, she has an extremely strong self-defense argument.