Dear 100 Hour Board,
If there were conjoined twins and one of them was evil (say, he murdered someone intentionally, and the other twin was innocent, not knowing it was going to happen), would the good twin be charged with a crime relating to being there when the murder happened? If the good twin was completely innocent, how would the bad twin be punished?
- The BYU Buckeye
This question has been on people's minds since at least 2009 when it was the Explainer’s question of the year. Then several years later when this sort of thing occurred on the TV show American Horror Story: Freak Show, the writers dodged the bullet of trying to answer this difficult question by having the conjoined twins escape punishment by running away and joining a freak show.
Fortunately, in 2017 some law experts came in clutch with the answers we've been searching for. In the abstract of Colleen Davis's paper "Complicity, crime and conjoined twins," she concludes that "it would seem there is no way to punish the guilty conjoined twin without also unjustly punishing the innocent sibling." (Forgive me for reading only the abstract. The BYU library did NOT come in clutch here; the link it had for the full paper just took me to a page that said "Full Text Not Currently Available.")
If you're asking me (which I guess you are), I'd have to agree with Davis on this one and say that the bad twin can't be punished. Perhaps that's scary to think that a murderer would get off scot-free, but what's scarier to me is dealing with having punished someone for something they didn't do. (Have I mentioned that The Sun Does Shine is an amazing book and everyone should read it?)