Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Berry case brief

People v. Berry case brief summary
134 Cal. Rptr. 415 (1976)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant appealed a judgment from the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, California, convicting him of first degree murder, Cal. Penal Code § 189, and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, Cal. Penal Code § 245(a).

CASE FACTS
Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury in connection with the death of defendant's wife. Defendant admitted the assault and killing, but claimed it was committed in a state of uncontrollable rage caused by provocation and flowing from condition of diminished capacity; and therefore it was error for trial court not to instruct jury on voluntary manslaughter.

DISCUSSION
  • The supreme court reversed murder conviction since trial court erred in failing to instruct jury on voluntary manslaughter since the evidence showed the killing was done upon sudden quarrel or heat of passion; but the court did not err in refusing an instruction on voluntary manslaughter in context of diminished capacity since there was no evidence defendant had any mental illness or defect. 
  • The court affirmed assault conviction since court did not err in refusing to instruct jury on simple assault.

CONCLUSION
Supreme court reversed judgment on murder conviction because trial court erred in failing to instruct jury on voluntary manslaughter since killing was done upon sudden quarrel or heat of passion; but affirmed conviction of assault since court did not err in refusing to instruct jury on simple assault.

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