Wendy Murphy: Small penis defense results in manslaughter conviction Martin McDonald appears for his arraignment on murder charges at Attleboro District Court, Thursday, January 28, 2016. A jury found him guilty of manslaughter last week. (Staff photo by Angela Rowlings.) By Wendy Murphy | PUBLISHED: August 24, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. | UPDATED: August 24, 2021 at 1:52 p.m. Just when you thought the Twinkie defense had gone by way of VHS tapes, along comes a defense that makes you wonder whether lawyers go to stupid defense school. The brutal slaying of Julie Meede at her Norton home in January 2016 looked like a slam dunk. There were eyewitnesses, the killer was covered in Julie’s blood when cops found him, and he immediately confessed. Easy case, right? Not in this gawd-awful state. Read on. Hailey Doran Meede was only 10 when she watched her father, Martin McDonald, slaughter her mother. McDonald is a very big guy, and Julie was tiny, so Hailey and her younger sister stepped in to help their mom, but McDonald kept stabbing and stabbing. When Hailey tried to call 911, he punched her and took the phone away. After stabbing Julie more than 50 times, McDonald smashed her face before driving off. He fled in a pick-up truck and was captured when he smashed into a car on the highway, seriously injuring another woman. When police arrived, McDonald put his hands behind his head and said “I just killed my wife. I need to be cuffed.” McDonald killed Julie because he was angry that she wanted out of the marriage, and had dated another man. In other words, he killed her because he was a horrible person and she was smart enough not to want to stay married to him. Two weeks ago at the trial in Bristol Superior Court, first responders testified to what they saw when they arrived at the crime scene. One EMT who tried to intubate Julie said he couldn’t get a line in because when he inserted the tube into her mouth, it slid out of a gaping hole in her neck. Another EMT found a little girl sitting catatonically on a sofa, and a third had to cradle Julie’s youngest child, a baby boy, in his arms. Julie’s niece was there, too, traumatized beyond words. At an age when they should have been watching cartoons and dreaming about Disney World, four children watched a man commit a crime more gruesome than their little brains could ever hope to comprehend. McDonald didn’t have much of a defense. He wasn’t intoxicated and there was no justification or excuse for what he did. So it was no surprise that he and his lawyers dragged the case out for five and a half years trying to come up with something. The first plan was to find an expert who could testify that McDonald had some sort of brain disorder, but that didn’t pan out so they moved on to something even the most desperate attorneys haven’t tried before: the small penis defense. Seriously. An expert witness for McDonald testified that he suffered from depression because he never grew much of a penis and that he compensated by taking steroids. But steroids shrink man parts, so that makes no sense. And whether or not he’s telling the truth about his manhood (the jury did not get to check) McDonald had elevated testosterone levels before the crime, even more proof the guy was angry, not depressed, because studies show that steroid use can cause uncontrollable rage. Yet a jury of seven men and seven women found McDonald guilty of only voluntary manslaughter. Under Massachusetts law, a person is guilty of first-degree murder if they intentionally kill a person with premeditation or “extreme atrocity or cruelty.” Julie Meede’s death was clearly extremely atrocious and exceedingly cruel. Second-degree murder applies when an intentional killing is done with malice. Also works. Voluntary manslaughter means an intentional killing was justified by provocation or heat of passion. This was not manslaughter. Not even close. That 12 jurors gave a brutal killer a double discount down from murder one to manslaughter because he felt bad about his penis size is an insult to Julie, all women and civilized society. If a man can kill a woman because he doesn’t like his penis size, what’s next? What if he doesn’t like his height? Or drives a V-6 rather than a V-8? What if he wishes he had a full head of hair? Seems like a good time to start screening jurors for basic intelligence — or at least screen out the ones who think manhood is more important than women’s very existence.