I investigated the use of the medical definition of human death in the criminal justice system and the impact of this definition on the prosecution of criminal homicide. The units of design for this research were two violent crimes cases investigated by the Homicide Unit of the Albuquerque Police Department. Data was collected from officer interviews, case files, Office of the Medical Investigator reports, media and social media.
I identified the themes of pursuit of justice, frustration, and family from the collected data. Key findings include that the medical definition of human death causes confusion and delay in the criminal justice system, the timing of the victim’s medical death impacted the sentencing received by the offender, and that the loss of the victim was felt by law enforcement and family before the victim was declared medically dead.
Level of Degree
College of Nursing
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
homicide, death, personhood, retributive justice theory
Wood, Mariah. "ANALYZING THE MEDICAL DEFINITION OF DEATH IN CRIMINAL HOMICIDE PROSECUTION." (2018). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nurs_etds/39