Til Death Do Us Part – Palm Beach County Woman Stabs Husband Over 140 Times

March 2, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

Marriages don’t always work out. However, in the case that two people do not wish to be together anymore, there are ways to end the legality of the marriage in a safe way. Divorce may seem like a long and difficult process, but in some instances, the disagreements between a couple can turn violent. For one native Florida woman, it turned deadly.

Melvin Weller, 62, was found by is 41-year-old stepson lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood. The scene was so graphic, authorities said that almost the entire kitchen floor was covered in blood. After calling the police in a panic, the stepson confirmed to authorities that he was not alone in the house—and that his mother was there in the other room.

Joan Burke, 61, has now been charged with first-degree murder for the death of her husband. Her husband was stabbed over 140 times. The family later confirmed that the husband was already disabled and had a hard time walking and gripping onto things.

We’ll go over the details of the case, Florida’s laws on murder in the first degree, and what’s to come for Burke.

What Happened?

According to court records, Weller had filed for divorce from his wife back in December. So far there have been no comments on the reasoning behind Weller filing for divorce. Whatever the reasoning, something escalated between the two of them on February 11th, 2022. Although the only person who knows what truly happened is not yet speaking to police, the evidence found at the crime scene indicates that Burke had killed her husband.

As covered by WPTV news, after arriving on the scene, deputies found Weller’s body on the kitchen floor. He had multiple stab wounds and lacerations to his body. There was also a skull fracture along the back right side of his head from a meat cleaver. In the kitchen sink, police found a knife covered in blood, along with the meat cleaver that had gone to Weller’s head. In addition to the pool of blood surrounding the kitchen floor, authorities also found blood splatters on the counters, cabinets, and walls of the family’s kitchen.

Surrounding Weller’s body was a collection of cleaning supplies assumed to have been meant for cleaning up the mess of the fight. A broom, dustpan, and mop were lying near the body in the kitchen, also covered in blood. There was also a plastic bag that had been tied up and filled with a bloody nightgown belonging to Burke along with Weller’s cellphone.

Burke had not attempted to flee the scene. In fact, she was still in the household when the police officers arrived at the crime scene. They found her laying on her bed, awake and alert, but completely silent to everyone on scene. After reviewing her body, authorities found lacerations on her own hands. Combined with the blood splattered across the kitchen, police believe that Weller had put up a fight.

After the coroner’s review of Weller’s body, it was confirmed that the husband had been stabbed over 140 times by his wife. There was also a skull fracture on Weller’s head due to the meat cleaver. Burke’s lacerations on her hands appear to be a result of the sheer number of times she had allegedly stabbed her husband, causing blood to make the knife slip and accidentally cut her as well.

Burke was first taken to the hospital for a health evaluation, before being taken into custody at the Palm Beach County Jail. She is now being held without bond.

The Florida Statute

Under Florida Statute Section 782.04, murder is the unlawful killing of another human being. Murder in the first degree is considered a capital felony. Included in the statute is aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult. Weller’s family confirmed that he was considered disabled due to his physical state.

A first-degree murder conviction in the state of Florida can result in extremely harsh penalties. Florida Statute Section 775 covers the punishment for first-degree murder, which would be life in prison without the possibility of any parole. In some cases, the prosecution can press for the defendant to face the death penalty.

Does the Number Matter?

In certain extreme cases, a homicide can be excused. Florida Statute Section 782.03 defines excusable homicide as an accident or misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent, or by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or sudden combat, without any dangerous weapon being used and not done in a cruel or unusual manner.

While crimes of passion can sometimes be applicable in instances of domestic violence, the sheer number of times Weller had been stabbed might play a part in the court case against Burke. Stabbing Weller over 140 times could be considered as an aggravating factor that would show excessive malice and heinousness in the act. In addition, the fact that Weller was declared physically disabled can also play a part in the case, as he may not have been able to put up much of a fight or defend himself.

What’s to Come

As for now, Burke sits in the Palm Beach County Jail without bond. Until she decides to speak to police, they will only be able to go off the crime scene and state of Weller’s body for the case. No court dates have been announced.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Domestic violence, murder, and other violent crime charges in Florida can result in severe penalties. In the event that a partner dies, it is of the utmost importance that you reach out to an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. A first-degree murder conviction in Florida can lead to life imprisonment or even capital punishment, and you need to ensure that you have a qualified professional on your side. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across the state and understand the significance of receiving the right legal guidance. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.  

Written by Karissa Key

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