Rorie Susan Woods, 55, is not the first woman accused of assault with a deadly weapon but she is certainly among the few to use bees as that weapon. That is what police are alleging after Woods allegedly met them (as they came to enforce an eviction order) with a swarm of angry bees. She was at the scene as an anti-eviction protester.
On Oct. 12, deputies arrived at the home. They reported that Woods arrived later and had several manufactured bee hives hooked up to the back of her SUV. When she then arrived, she began releasing the bees.
As police and neighbors were stung by the angry bees, Woods put on a professional beekeeper suit to protect herself and was reportedly seen carrying what appeared to be a “tower of bees.”
She then moved near the entrance to the residence to obstruct the eviction efforts.
She was eventually arrested and pleaded not guilty to four counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon; three counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and a disorderly conduct charge.
The disorderly conduct charge is obvious. The assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charges are novel. Yet, 100 Americans die each year from bee strings. It is also well within the definition of a dangerous weapon.
Here is the standard jury instruction in Massachusetts for determining if there was a dangerous weapon used in a crime:
To prove the third element, the Commonwealth must prove that the touching was done with a dangerous weapon.
A. If the alleged weapon is inherently dangerous. A dangerous weapon is an item which is designed for the purpose of causing serious injury or death. I instruct you, as a matter of law, that ______________ is a dangerous weapon.
If the alleged weapon is not inherently dangerous. An item that is normally used for innocent purposes can become a dangerous weapon if it is used in a dangerous or potentially dangerous fashion. The law considers an item to be used in a dangerous fashion if it is used in a way that it reasonably appears to be capable of causing serious injury or death to another person.
For example, a brick can be a dangerous weapon if it is thrust against someone’s head or a pillow if it is used to suffocate someone. In deciding whether an item was used as a dangerous weapon, you may consider the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime, the nature, size, and shape of the item, and the manner in which it was handled or controlled.
If a pillow can be a dangerous weapon, thousands of bees are clearly within the definition even without anaphylaxis.
We have some footage of past Bee trials that may give a foreshadowing for this prosecution: