Thursday, February 9, 2012

State v. Utter case brief

State v. Utter (not udder)
Washington State Court of Appeals

FACTS
-D and son living together.  Son entered father's apartment.
-Said "dad, don't", seen stumbling in hall, collapsed having been stabbed in chest.
-Said, "dad stabbed me," died shortly after.
-D entered armed services, honorably discharged, combat infantryman with disability.
-On the date of son's death, he was drunk, remembers nothing of the murder.
-Evidence was put forth of 'conditioned response', result of jungle war training in the second world war. 
-On two occasions D had reacted violently towards people approaching unexpectedly from the rear. 

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
-D charge with 2nd degree murder, Jury conviction of manslaughter.
-Trial court ruled: conditioned response is NOT valid defense in Washington state.
-D appealed.

ISSUE
-Was it error for the trial court to instruct the jury to disregard the evidence on conditioned response?

HOLDING
-The evidence that was presented was insufficient to present the issue of D's unconsciousness at the time of the act to the jury.
-Held that in absence of evidence from which jury could determine or reasonably infer what happened at time defendant's son was stabbed, defendant was not entitled to have issue of whether defendant was in an unconscious or automatistic state at the time he allegedly stabbed his son or whether stabbing was result of a conditioned response presented to jury.

RULES
-State of unconsciousness which is voluntarily induced through the use and consumption of alcohol or drugs is not a complete defense to a charged crime.
-“Manslaughter” includes all homicides not falling within definitions of murder in the first or second degree or excusable or justifiable homicide.
-Criminal intent is not an element of manslaughter.
-“Voluntary” is included in definition of word “act” in instruction that law presumes every man intends the natural and probable consequences of his own acts.

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