He was convicted of first-degree murder. But jurists on the Third District Court of Appeals seemed strangely moved by Tien's plight. In an opinion that reads much like the synopsis of a low-budget television movie, the panel noted that "the homicide climaxed a day of impassioned efforts by defendant to persuade his wife not to leave him, which, in turn, had been immediately preceded by his having traveled halfway around the world to see her.... Kirtley brusquely rejected the entreaties of the defendant as Tien Wang humbled himself before him and begged Kirtley not to take his wife from him."
This humiliation, they argued, so infuriated the defendant that he was not "conscious of the nature of the deed he was about to commit and the probable result to flow from it." He was incapable, in other words, of premeditation, the essential element in first-degree murder. (The previous year, the panel had overturned another murder conviction on identical grounds. In that case, a prostitute shot her pimp after he beat and raped her.)
Because of these rulings, Dade prosecutors must now be cautious in filing murder charges. "It used to be the cops came to us with a body that was shot six, seven times and we'd say, 'First-degree murder.' We can't say that any more," sneers veteran prosecutor David Waksman.
Medical Examiner Joe Davis, the man responsible for the county's meticulous death records, shares Waksman's disdain for the "heat of passion" argument. "The way the news media covers these things, it's always that the perpetrator was in a jealous rage. That's baloney! There are a lot of people in a jealous rage who don't go around killing. The people who commit these crimes are not simply angry. They're selfish, wicked people."
That's certainly a fair description of Jack Hogan. By 1966, his abuse had driven his wife Edith to seek a divorce. She took a job selling drapes at the Sears in downtown Miami. On Valentine's Day 1967, Hogan approached his estranged wife in the Sear's parking lot. He fired a shotgun into her chest. A restraining order was found in her purse.