Monday, April 13, 2009

Blame a Victim for Her Own Murder?

Last week I monitored a portion of State v. Laurent Dorivert (2006-CF-17670-O) in Orange County. Dorivert was accused of murdering his wife, Marie, by beating her with a yard tool. Marie's death received no press at the time. Only a brief note in the Sentinel when her husband was indicted for the crime. Dorivert was a pastor.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to watch the entire trial. I did, however, listen to significant portions of the interrogation that the defendant was subjected to by law enforcement. I don't know the names of the detectives, but I was greatly distressed by what I heard. Dorivert was repeatedly subjected to two detectives yelling at him that he wasn't telling the truth, badgering him and arguing with him about what he had told them. I suppose that's all par for the course, especially when you have testimony of other witnesses that contradicts what the suspect is telling you.

What really distressed me was the attacks they made on Marie. Trying to "buddy up" to him to get him to confide in them - telling him that it's understandable that sometimes people do bad things when they're upset. They repeatedly asked him questions like "What did your wife do to you to cause you to do this [murder]? . . . She must have done something pretty bad to make you do this. . . Maybe she cheated on you? . . . What about her breaking her vow to you and to God by divorcing you?. . . Did she tell you she was leaving you and taking your daughter back to Haiti?" and so on.

After listening to nearly 90 minutes of this interrogation, I could see by their body language that the jurors had had their fill of it. The badgering of the defendant made me feel sorry for him. I didn't hear all the evidence against him during my time in the courtroom. It was obviously enough to convict, because that's exactly what the jury did. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month to life in prison.

But my heart went out to Marie, first and foremost, because it seemed as though she was being somehow blamed for her own death. I wonder if the jury, hearing the detectives' repeated assaults on her character, might have struggled with the issue of whether or not she was somehow "responsible" for the assault. Sadly, this is a tactic that many defense attorneys use in domestic violence cases - blaming the victim for the decisions made by her attacker.


  1. In this case, it is a sad situation and most people only hear what they are suppose to hear. Early on this case started on the wrong foot. The age of the deceased was given incorrectly and perceived the defendent to be such an evil man. This man is a well respected individual in the community and has never committed any acts of violence against anyone. The fact that the court sentenced him to life is unfair. The j7ustice system needs to be evaluated.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Well respected or not, his wife is dead, fatally, and forever. He has been found guilty by a jury. Many well respected people do bad things, sometimes they even get caught. To me, that is proof that that every now and then that our justice system is still working.


  3. Incorrect age or not, that has nothing to do with the fact that a woman was brutally murdered in her own home leaving behind three children, what inside track do you have that leads you to make such comments about this man's character? The jury made the right decision the fact that this woman was killed for no reason, that's unfair!!! The only thing that needs to be re-evaluated here is your thought process.