Inside the ‘Zone of Death’ where you could theoretically get away with murder
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This stretch of land is located within Yellowstone National Park, which mostly covers Wyoming but stretches into Montana and Idaho too.
Now, we should preface this by saying that murder is wrong in any circumstance, but there seems to be a place you could theoretically get away with it, thanks to a legal loophole.
The loophole responsible for the Zone of Death is all to do with the sixth amendment, which says juries in federal criminal cases have to be made up of people who are from the district and state where the crime was committed.
The Zone of Death is in the state of Idaho and is uninhabited, but the US court for the district of Wyoming has jurisdiction over all of Yellowstone.
If this sounds confusing, the gist of it is that if you committed murder in the Zone of Death the US justice system would have to pick a jury from a place where nobody lives – an impossible task.
Since they could not legally form a jury to put you on trial then in theory you should just be able to walk away scot free.
The Zone of Death was first discovered in 2005 by law professor Brian C Kalt when he was writing about the sixth amendment and imagined a hypothetical part of the US where there might not be enough people to form a jury.
Horrified to discover that such a place actually existed, he's since petitioned the US government to close the loophole just in case anyone actually tries to exploit it, though congress is yet to shut down the Zone of Death.
The incredible legal loophole ended up being the basis for bestselling crime novel Free Fire, with author C.J. Box consulting professor Kalt about the details surrounding the Zone of Death.
Regardless of the supposed lawlessness of the zone, nobody yet has really tested the legality of the Zone of Death as there have been no recorded felonies in the zone.
The closest anyone has come is a poacher illegally shooting an elk in a different part of Yellowstone where it would have been difficult but not impossible to form a jury.
Instead, a federal judge decided the poacher could be tried in another court, the poacher appealed on similar legal grounds to the Zone of Death but the court dismissed the argument and he ended up pleading guilty.
Put it this way, if you got caught murdering people in the Zone of Death they'd certainly find a way to prosecute you.
An old legal loophole does not give you free licence to get away with murder.