Gear up for Gattaca, as an Italian court has reduced a murderer's sentence to account for his genes. Despite the fact the relevant genetic science isn't actually that advanced, the likely effects on the legal system, and the very real question of "Isn't that ass backwards?"
A Mr Bayout stabbed a man to death for insulting his eye make-up in 2007. These facts are not in doubt, and have been admitted by Mr Bayout himself. The standard twelve year term was reduced by three years because of "psychiatric illness", because when someone not only murders people for cosmetic reasons but is unbalanced and inclined towards doing it again, it's important to get them back on the street as soon as possible. But then Judge Reinotti of the Italian Court of Appeal cut another year off the sentence because of a "genetic abnormality" causing our killer to have low-levels of metabolizing enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MOAO).
Studies show that low levels of MOAO in abused children can lead to violent behavior. And other studies show the opposite, accounting for some of the infinity of other factors which could influence this. And there's the fact that the entire science of behavioral genetics is nowhere near the point of being used in society and sentencing, unless you have lawyer who's throwing everything possible at a judge in order to reduce the conviction.
But even suppose you had a perfect genetic program which could pinpoint what a person will do (which would be a hell of a trick because genes don't even remotely work like that): if your lawyer proves that your genes make you more likely to suddenly, insanely lose your mind and shove a knife into another human being until they die, that doesn't sound like something that should reduce your sentence. If someone proves in a court of law that you cannot help but kill people, that your very genes lead to murder, wouldn't the only sane response is to make sure that your genes aren't walking around any more?
Sentence Reduced http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091030/full/news.2009.1050.html?s=news_rss