If you get mad at some chick because she was talking to some dude in a bar and decide to stalk them and run them down and kill them, that’s not premeditated if you were drunk.

That is what people think Timothy Bakdash did last year in Dinkytown, a Minneapolis neighborhood. In the larger scheme of things, it may not matter too much because he was in fact recently found guilty of 9 out of 12 counts of various wrongdoings related to his attempt to run over a bunch of people who annoyed him, and earlier today he was sentenced to 40 years behind bars. But still, the jury felt that if you are really drunk when you decide to kill someone, plan it out, go get the weapon (in this case, a car), stalk the victims, then run them over, that’s not really premeditation. Or at least, that’s the argument Bakdash’s lawyers made, and the Jury seems to have complied.

Details here.

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62 thoughts on “Planning a murder? Get drunk first, spend less time in prison!

  1. An intoxicated person is judged incapable of reasoned thought – he’s not permitted to make decisions regarding refusal of medical care, for example, or to engage in marriage contracts, or to get a tattoo.

    Why do you think it’s unreasonable that being drunk should make a legal determination of premeditation impossible as well?

    Drunkenness doesn’t absolve all responsibility – but it does remove the element of reasoned thought which is used to increase the severity of the charges and penalties – and rightly so.

  2. I would say that spending weeks plotting someone’s death is worse than just getting a bug your ass and running some people over in your truck. Well it’s worse in some ways. In other ways the reverse is true. I’m not sure how it all evens out in the end, but legally I think a murder for hire is worse than a crime of “passion”.

    OT Here’s a thought, man gets drunk and drives his car down the wrong way on the interstate, crashes and kills the driver of the other car. But the driver turns out to be his ex-wife who was taking him to court to increase her spousal support. Was it deliberate or just a “happy” accident on his part?

  3. I would say that spending weeks plotting someone’s death is worse than just getting a bug your ass and running some people over in your truck.

    I don’t see how.

  4. I have a vague (50 year old) recollection of judges in Adelaide, South Australia giving lighter sentences to offenders who were drunk and didn’t realise what they were doing.

    I also remember Tom Flynn, the copper in Angaston, South Australia, helping drunks into their cars when the pub closed, and advising them to drive carefully.

  5. Alverant, in some states, premeditation is indicated if you even change your context slightly. For example, there’s the guy who was really mad at his children. He went to the shop in his basement to find a hammer, found it, came back up stairs, and killed one of the children with several blows to the head, then killed the other one with several blows to the head (they were being bratty). The prosecution saw fit to seek first degree murder charges because he went to the basement (in a state of rage) and came backup from the basement (still in a state of rage) and so on and so forth.

    Paul, I’m pretty sure that you can get drunk and get a tattoo.

  6. #6
    It’s worse because the murderer had time to think about it. They had a chance to consider what they were doing with a clear head without the rage. They were in full control over themselves and made the decision to kill.

    In Greg’s example in #8, the guy was always in a state of rage. Personally I wouldn’t call it premeditation but it’s still horrible and warrants harsh punishment.

    IMHO someone who acted on emotions would later regret their actions while someone who committed premeditated murder would only regret getting caught. I know these may be overly broad and there are room for exceptions and a fair amount of wiggling. But I think we should acknowledge the different motivations for killing someone at least when sentencing. Part of incaration is to make sure a person doesn’t do it again as well as issuing punishment. I think most of the time someone acting in a rage is less likely to kill again than someone who spent several days plotting a murder.

  7. Given that alcohol affects cognition, I’d be horrified if it *didn’t* affect findings as to premeditation. Premeditation is plotting out a crime in cold blood, and a killer would still be guilty of premeditation if they planned a crime and then deliberately got drunk to carry it out. Planning the crime while drunk is different and, in the absence of a strict liability legal system, should be viewed differently.

    Don’t we want killers for hire and intoxicated fools with guns treated differently? People are still dead, but there’s a hell of a difference between the two.

  8. Personally I wouldn’t call it premeditation but it’s still horrible and warrants harsh punishment.

    But the law of the state called it premeditation.

    I do actually agree with much of what you are saying, but I don’t think being drunk should get someone off for a planned murder when they planned a murder. Nonetheless, the law works the way it does not the way we wish to reinvent it with every news story.

  9. Mattir, you are, however, reinventing a wheel that already exists. Maybe your wheel would be better, but in some states premeditation only has to be a minute or two of consideration before pulling a trigger. People who murder for hire or who plan out murders in detail in advance may be also guilty of conspiracy or other crimes as well, but the 2nd/1st degree line is, if I understand correctly, not usually where you are putting it.

  10. The Twinkie defense has returned?

    Probably the most universally misunderstood legal argument in history the “Twinkie defence” did not suggest that Twinkies caused or contributed to the crime or to White’s diminished capacity or were any kind of mitigating factor. The argument was that White was suffering from severe untreated depression at the time of the murders and that this mental illness resulted in diminished capacity. The Twinkies were mentioned only as one symptom of the depression.

    So no, this is not the return of the Twinkie defence.

  11. Being intoxicated fo your own volition is generally not a valid defense. Peopel would just get drunk so they could use that as an excuse later. In fact, this is a major problem in domestic abuse cases.

  12. Well, just how much alcohol impairs a given individual’s moral senses to what extent? Most people are not terribly morally impaired in the spectrum form “warm” or “buzzed” to “blind drunk” and on the verge of passing out. They sure as hell like to use the excuse though, for anything from mildly embarrassing behavior and being less inhibited than usual right up to criminal activity.

    People will behave in this manner if you convince them they are drinking alcohol or have taken a drug when in fact they have not.

    Alcohol should figure less into an impairment defense than it does. Although in the best of cases, this should be taken on an individual basis as much as possible.

    Back in the good old days, drunk driving was an excuse for vehicular crimes.

  13. I almost forgot to explain the right way to do this: Stalk the woman, annoy her, and when it gets a little confrontational, just shoot her. Claim it was self-defense. Does Minnesota have a SYG law?

  14. Greg, it reminds me of a case in Michigan about 20 years ago where a group of men were in a bar drinking. There was an Asian man in there drinking too and they began haranguing him about the Japanese car makers stealing their jobs to the point of following him out of the bar and beating him to death. They were completely let off the hook because….(insert drum beat) while they thought he was Japanese, he was actually CHINESE American. So the Judge let them go..

  15. I think most of the time someone acting in a rage is less likely to kill again than someone who spent several days plotting a murder.

    I would think someone who is so out of control of their emotions that they can fly into a fit of rage and kill is more dangerous than someone who coldly calculates the crime over a period of time. How does anyone know what’s going to cause the person to lose control again?

    Someone who kills feels that it is their right to take someone else’s life due to something the victim has done, or has control over. Whether it is money, their own actions, their own body, or whatever. Just because one person has more control over the process doesn’t make their action any better or worse. The mindset that they have this right, is still there.

  16. gwen, or the people who got away with killing gays who came on to them. They actually had a name for that, but I cannot think if it.

  17. Mattir, I might agree in you after I learn more about this case. But the guy, according to reports, tried to pick up a girl and was gilted … His reaction was to try to murder her and her friends. It was actually an attempted mass killing but only one person died.

  18. a guy who responds to rejection this way has had a whole lot of hurt since he was conceived to get him to that point.

    Or the guy is so narcissistic that nobody dare humiliate them like that.

  19. It is true that being drunk may impair someone’s ability to plan a murder, but this is not a claim that can be made once they have actually planned murder.

    Now being drunk may reduce inhibitions against committing murder, but that has typically never been a defence much used, if only because it suggests the accused is an extremely dangerous individual with very poor self-control, and who therefore may never be fit to be allowed to rejoin society.

  20. In my experience (personal and/or anecdotal though it is), alcohol does not actually impair one’s judgement or change one’s thought processes. It destroys reaction time and lowers inhibition, but I have never seen it make someone do something they would not consider doing while sober. I have a feeling that this experience is typical, and it renders alcohol little more than a convenient scapegoat. As such, I doubt it really impacts culpability as much as we want it to, unless you want to argue that “This man *really* wanted to kill his victim, but he wouldn’t have, but for alcohol removing his inhibition to do so” is a valid line of defence for loss of culpability. Which is what I think the OP was getting at in general, regardless of the specific facts of this case; is such a defence valid? Is there an alternate one we need to formulate, in cases where intent isn’t abrogated, but inhibitions are?

    That’s a serious legal and moral question; after all, we each have urges we suppress for our own and others’ benefit. Just how much “lack of intent” do we ascribe to what is really inhibition of intent, and how should we legally recognize when lacking that inhibition is the motivation for harm? And should that recognition coincide with a concomitant reduction in culpability?

    In my own case, at least, I don’t feel that it should. But I’m open to arguments to the contrary.

  21. Complaining about 40 years in prison versus the life-without-parole option seems pretty much like a call for vengence to me

    I suggested that it was first degree murder, and that in my opinion him being drunk is not a valid reason to set that aside. If you disagree with that, fine, you may be right, it’s a valid point.

    But you seem also to be arguing a point that I’ve argued elsewhere at all; that our society seems to want to treat everyone like they were the worst of the worst no matter what they do. I don’t like that, you don’t like that, it’s not a good way to do things.

    But that has little to do with the question of premeditation.

    You are tilting at a windmill that isn’t there, becuase you are assuming it is there (and it often is) and you are starting to become insulting in doing so. Time for you to take it down a notch.

  22. Greg, if you are basing your opinion solely on this one short write-up, I think you are doing the jurors a disservice. The newspaper write-up seems to be saying that the jurors heard about a much more impulsive action and a much different intent than you seem to be implying. It seems quite likely that the prosecution was not able to convince them that there was premeditation and intent. Your headline implies that Bakdash got insulted, then angry, then drunk, then murderous. Most of what I’ve heard of this case says that he got drunk, then insulted, then angry, then impulsive and dangerous. http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20404799/bakdash-could-face-51-years-prison

  23. Wait, “shame on you” and a reference to Fox qualifies as over-the-line bad tone? Wow. (Various sarcastic statements deleted.)

    Are you referring here to something I said, because I did not say anything about tone. I merely pointed out that you are telling me that i’m wrong about something but I never said the thing you say I’m wrong about. In fact, we agree on that thing.

    In the real world, juries deal with considerations of the automatic penalties for various convictions. They weren’t comfortable, in this case, with finding “premeditation” for a decision made while intoxicated and carried out a short while later during that same episode of intoxication with no intervening non-intoxicated period,

    Yes. And I disagree with them.

    So you want the label “premeditation” to be slapped onto this crime along with “intent”, and you’re apparently fine with the consequences of that.

    If it is in fact true that the decision was “he premeditated” but “was drunk” so it “does not count” then I do not agree. That is what was reported, tough of course I was not in the jury room. I don’t think deciding to kill someone is not deciding to kill someone if you were drunk while you decided to do that.

    For the record, I would argue that the killing-the-kids-with-a-hammer case could also have been second-degree and not first

    I absolutely agree with that. The father was in a rage and out of control, and that lasted long enough to go get the hammer.

    There are way way worse killers out there than Bakdash, and I’d rather make it clear that his crime, while deserving of severe punishment, is not as bad as it gets.

    Adolph Hitler is as bad as it gets. Do we really need to go there?

    If he drove onto the sidewalk with the intent of killing one person and happened to run over three people, that would be one thing. Still premeditated, as he stalked the victim, turned the wrong way up a street, etc. etc. If he drove onto the sidewalk with the intent of running over a bunch of people and killing them, then technically (remeber Hitler?) that’s not “as bad as it gets” … and no one said it was … but it is verging on conspiracy for mass murder, if I’m correct in thinking that killing 3 or more people in Minnesota is mass murder.

    An addendum – you cannot decouple the question of premeditation and the question of life-without-parole.

    Interesting question. For the legislature.

    Imnagine:
    Greg, if you are basing your opinion solely on this one short write-up, I think you are doing the jurors a disservice.

    Actually, I’m not.

    Your headline implies that Bakdash got insulted, then angry, then drunk, then murderous. Most of what I’ve heard of this case says that he got drunk, then insulted, then angry, then impulsive and dangerous.

    I did not imply that. That’s in your head.

    Also, there are three different versions of what happened regarding who was whom, who knew whom, who had spoken with whom and who was mad at whom. One of those versions was around at the time that this happened, and the other two seem to be the defense vs. the prosecutor’s version.

    One of the witnesses made the claim that Bakdash was aiming for one group of people (attempted mass murder) and missed, then in a rage ran some other people over instead. Another version claims that he thought he hit who he was trying to kill, but accidentally struck others …. i.e., mistaken identity. The main version used in court has Bakdash fighting with people (verbally) he came acrosss outside then trying to kill them with his car, the version that was around at the time and that people were talking about here has him mad at people in the bar and later seeking them out outside. These are not incompatible ideas.

    The aforementioned witness said that Bakdash claimed after running over the three people that he hit (after missing the two he was aiming for) that those three people deserved it.

  24. BTW, I run into the prosecutor now and then (saw him last on Saturday). Obviously we haven’t been able to talk about this case, but maybe next time I can ask him what he thinks. Could make an interesting interview if he can talk about it.

  25. alcohol does not actually impair one’s judgement or change one’s thought processes. It destroys reaction time and lowers inhibition, but I have never seen it make someone do something they would not consider doing while sober.

    ???
    Dumbest thing I’ve seen written today.

  26. . You seem to be arguing for some Platonic ideal of premeditation in which decisions made while drunk have the same moral weight as those made while at the height of one’s mental game

    Only in cases of attempted mass murder of innocent people walking down the street minding their own business. We may have to agree to disagree on that.

    But please, make it a disagreement about that point, which is the point I made, the point I reiterated, the point I restated as a correction to your incorrect assumptions, etc. etc. Setting up things that I’m not saying and arguing against them, which you seem to hav done i every single one of your comments, is what I refer to when I say “tilting at windmills.” It is a literary reference.

  27. I haven’t brought poker or rape into this argument to make my point and I don’t see how it is helping you make your point. Certainly you are not comparing a woman defending herself from being rape and some dickhead deciding to commit mass murder.

    The only way in which being drunk figures into this is that he was too drunk to manage it effectively and, thankfully, only one person died.

    Yes, it is possible that had he not been drunk he would not have crossed that line. But drinking is legal, he’s a guy who drinks, and there is not a social or legal facility for causing people who, while drunk, cross the line from imagining an attempt at mass murder to carrying out the attempt to not drink.

    Now, please explain what the similarity between a woman being raped and a guy trying to kill a bunch of people on a sidewalk in Dinkytown.

  28. Mattir:

    It’s fairly well known that pathological narcissism results from some fairly serious (and sometimes sublte) problems in early childhood. It’s just that as a culture we work quite hard at not recognizing how our childcare practices (parenting and institutional) contribute to seriously disturbed adults. Empathy is shaped and encouraged by parental care and the overall culture, and while someone may be able to articulate right and wrong, they may not feel it, emotionally, as a normal person does.

    I’ll be blunt.

    I don’t give a flying fuck about the poor ickle sociopaths and narcissists. They harm people. They’ve harmed people very dear to me. They can die in a fucking fire.

    Also, you do know that some men deliberately intoxicate themselves in order to give themselves the “courage” to abuse women? They can go fuck themselves, too.

  29. Now you are telling me I misrepresented what the Jury was thinking, but I did not represent what they were thinking.

    You sure do love you them windmills.

    Daisy: Also, you do know that some men deliberately intoxicate themselves in order to give themselves the “courage” to abuse women? They can go fuck themselves, too.

    Good point. I’m wondering if Mr. Mattir is one of those MRA guys. It would fit.

  30. Mattir, how the hell can you honestly make so many excuses for sociopaths, narcissists and murderers? Your inane defences that the poor dears just can’t help themselves are absolutely disgusting.

    I also love how you equate rape survivors who were intoxicated to fucking murderers. Did you miss the part where one of them is the victim to a crime, and the other is the perpetrator? (And while we’re at it, how about how often rapists intoxicate themselves (somewhat) and their victims (much more) in order to give themselves some liquid courage and make sure nobody believes the survivor?

  31. Criminals deserve compassion no more or less than crime victims do.

    So someone who’s harmed someone else in a deliberate and, possibly, horrendous way deserves as much compassion as someone who’s not harmed someone else but has been harmed by someone else?

    Bull. Fucking. Shit.

    Yeah, I know, this makes me a compassionless right-winger or something. What-the-fuck ever. I agree with one of several friends who’s been raped that if their rapist eventually turns up dead in the gutter, there will be champagne and cake. One less fucking sociopath preying on other people.

  32. Greg, Mattir is a woman.

    What-ever. There are MRA chicks.

    Mattir: I guess everyone on the internet (or at least everyone who disagrees with Greg Laden about legal and neuropsychological issues) is really a man.

    That is in fact usually the case, for whatever reason.

    He will be in prison for 40 years. Why isn’t this enough?

    It probably is enough.

    Why is it so important that the “premeditation” label get applied?

    Because his actions were premeditated.

    I noted that we treat decisions made by rape victims while intoxicated very differently from decisions made by assailants while intoxicated.

    But in appropriately so. Some people seem to feel more at ease blaming the victim if the victim is wearing certain clothing or has been drinking, etc. but that is wrong.

    I have worked with young abused children and seen how criminals are made. I do not divide the universe of humans into victims and criminals – there’s a huge overlap between those two sets.

    Nobody else is doing that either. You’ve painted me quite incorrectly with the brush you brought to the table, I’ve corrected you on that an you really don’t care at all what I’ve said about it. You have characterized me and some of the commenters here incorrectly, you’ve been informed of that, and you’ve doubled down. You really do have to stop doing that, or take your self righteous ass out of the conversation.

    Criminals deserve compassion no more or less than crime victims do. They deserve to be confined as punishment for their actions, but they also deserve compassion.

    Making that comparison is fairly pointless. It only works at an abstract level (as you draw back to in your later comment).

    No one is saying that “all humans” don’t deserve compassion, yet, once again, you’ve chosen to paint others with that brush.

    Why are you doing that?

  33. He will be in prison for 40 years. Why isn’t this enough?

    It probably is enough.

    Why is it so important that the “premeditation” label get applied?

    Because his actions were premeditated.

    Jurisprudence Fetishist Gets Off On Technicality

  34. If you compare rape victims’ treatment to that of a murderer who couldn’t handle rejection, then no wonder you have to protest that you’re a rape victim yourself. And trying to compare rape victims to the men who rape them, well—-funny how the guy is the one whose culpability is being lessened here, isn’t it?

  35. Hey Mattir, IDGAF about your “cred” when you’re deliberately ignoring the victims here while crowing about how very superior you are because you feeeeeel for the poor widdle misunderstood sociopaths. Or saying things identical those the shit rape apologists spew. What you’re doing NOW matters more than your cred. Also, I’m really not sure why you’ve decided that NPD and its siblings are all the fault of bad mean uncompassionate parents, when as yet nobody is sure why they exist. Yes, appropriate rehabilitation should take into account the backgrounds and mental health issues of the perpetrators. However, handwringing over the poor misunderstood dears for receiving sentences for the crime they committed at all because at one point, they may have been victims themselves is frankly ridiculous.

  36. Mattir @55, I detect a re-writing error.

    I can think that intoxication does affect one’s ability to make decisions without wanting sociopaths or criminals in general to be responsible for their misdeeds. I do not want this killer on the streets for decades. He will be in prison for 40 years.

    I infer from context that you meant

    I can think that intoxication does affect one’s ability to make decisions and still want sociopaths or criminals in general to be responsible for their misdeeds…

    Is that correct?

  37. Actually, I’m not ignoring the complexities of the case at all. I’ve been thinking about those complexities since I heard the news that some kids at the U were run down and wondered if it was anyone I knew (either hit by the car or driving it). But I did in this particular blog post, which is not a reification of my live, my mind, by experience, or my overall thoughts on either the justice system or this particular case, speak of one very narrowly defined and specific thing; That the validity of the argument that intoxication obviates premeditation in attempted mass murder. I think it does not.

    You can have compassion and still deal out justice, guys.

    Absolutely.

    I was an male MRA and then an “MRA chick.”

    Well, at least you admit it. Admitting it is the first step.

    Also, can you point to any instance where I’ve said that I didn’t want this guy to be in prison for decades?

    That’s actually somewhat mystifying to me. You have indeed said that you think 40 years is a good sentence, yet you can’t abide by premeditation (i.e., taking responsibility for having decided to kill people, acting on that, failing, then deciding to do it again, and having limited success, then stating publicly that they deserved it.)

    In fact, the prosecutors were surprised at the 40 years that the judge doled out. They were thinking less with these particular convictions. The judge is the one being harsh here.

  38. IMHO, this fellow should have been charged with 2nd-degree murder instead of criminal negligence. He ran down someone who was standing away from him, as shown by security cameras, then declared that he felt threatened. He grabbed onto the car–after he’d been hit by it, to keep from going under the wheels. He then left the scene of the crime and ditched the woman he’d been out with. But he’s an Ontario politician, so his version of the story gets credence.

  39. Antecedent fail:

    He [the politician] ran down someone who was standing away from him, as shown by security cameras, then declared that he felt threatened. Yes, he [the victim] grabbed onto the car–-but only after he’d been hit by it, to keep from going under the wheels. He [the politician] then left the scene of the crime and ditched the woman he’d been out with. But he’s an Ontario politician, so his version of the story gets credence.

  40. I’m arguing with an “American Lawyer” who told me that she equates the “she was drunk” excuse for rape with the “I was drunk” excuse for attempting to kill several people walking down the sidewalk.

    (Oh, and that’s where the MR apologist suggestion comes from.)

    Mr. Mattir, I’m sorry if you are a “long time reader” who feels insulted. I’m also rather shocked that you were under the impression that I was a journalist. You did, however, make a mistake in your last comment. You laid out a list of expectations you have for me, as to how I operate this blog. You gave me a checklist of things I have to do. It is interesting that not only are you certain of yourself in telling me what I think in regards to issues over which I’ve said nothing, but that you feel that it is oK for you do give me specific instructions.

    That is out of line. There are a lot of reasons I write this blog. None of them include being annoyed by you. I think you’ve made your point (that being drunk is an excuse for murder). You are now dismissed.

    Markita, yes, I’m a layperson looking in, so my opinion is not as valuable as a lawyer. The county prosecutor here who charged bakdash agrees with me, not Mattir. My opinion may be of little value to you since I’m not a lawyer, and frankly it is not of that much value to me either, about this issue. But I would not say that we have evidence of all the lawyers thinking one thing and all the laypeople looking in thinking another.

    This could have been an interesting discussion had it been more about the topic itself. Mattir chose to critique things that were not said and make her points so obscurely that I’m still not sure if she’s really saying that being drunk makes being raped less of a crime or not. And, she’d ended her career here on my blog by telling me that everyone else agrees with her that i’m an unprofessional journalist.

    Yeah, I’ve had about 100 interesting conversations over the last 10 days. This was not one of them.

  41. “insult your blog readers for discussing the issue you originally raised, which is how voluntary intoxication affects one’s ability to make decisions and how the legal system should treat decisions made while intoxicated.”

    This is what is known as begging the question.

    The original question was not the way intoxication affects culpability, but whether or not it should be considered. By putting it this way you are obviating the argument unfairly, my dear.

  42. Why is the issue of premeditation such a big deal? Because it removes the chance to make excuses for the rapist and murderer. Hugo Schwyzer’s fans got outraged when people refused to let them blame his attempted murder on his drug use. There’s cultural tropes that excuse men for drinking, while attacking women for the same thing, (just like good looking men are excused for the things they do, while good-looking women are assumed to be manipulative and lazy.)

    Premeditation means the guy calmly, deliberately planned to kill this woman. No excuses. That means talk of redemption is unnecessary. There’s nothing to redeem.

    The Army, for example, explicitly bought into this “booze=poor misguided woobie” and used to (and may still) cite that 52 % of rapes committed by or against service members were committed while booze was involved. (They didn’t mention who was drunk.) What they didn’t take on was the fact there’s only four points between 48% and 52%—but nobody wants to discuss that. That means half the rapists decided to rape somebody and did it while they were in full control of their faculties. Anybody who’s drunk enough to claim non culpability in the case of rape or murder—-crimes where men get the benefit of the doubt if the victim is a woman—-would be too drunk to commit the act.

    I also call bullshit on the idea that committing a crime automatically means an abusive background. Funny how nobody believes that of women. The elephant in the room is that a lot of men who abuse women do it because they’ve weighed the odds, because they’ve found the odds to be loaded in their favor of getting away with it, and so they decided to go for it.

  43. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, zynga chip which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

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