Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Petersen case brief

State v. Petersen case brief summary
522 P.2d 912 (1974)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Multnomah County Circuit Court (Oregon) denied defendant's demurrer to manslaughter indictment and acquittal motions; jury convicted defendant of manslaughter, Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.125; hit and run, Or. Rev. Stat. § 483.602 (1)-(2); and failure of a witness to furnish name and address at scene of accident, Or. Rev. Stat. § 483.602 (3).

CASE FACTS
Defendant engaged in "acceleration standoff" against another driver and passenger, who were struck by another vehicle and killed after running a stop sign. Following the accident, defendant left without rendering assistance or identifying himself. Jury convicted defendant of manslaughter, Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.125; hit and run, § 483.602 (1)-(2); and leaving the scene, § 483.602 (3). Defendant appealed.

DISCUSSION

  • Court affirmed trial court's denial of demurrer and acquittal motions.
  • The court held that evidence supported manslaughter charge where the defendant "recklessly" caused decedent passenger's death by consciously disregarding "substantial and unjustifiable" risk to human life that defendant's drag racing created.
  • The other driver's conduct was not an independent intervening cause within the risk of the race, particularly since no finish line had been agreed upon.
  • The legislature intended no exception to manslaughter where decedent passenger participated in drag race because participant's chance of death does not diminish substantial risk to non-participating public.

CONCLUSION
Court affirmed denying demurrer and acquittal motions because evidence supported manslaughter charge where defendant acted "recklessly" causing death by consciously disregarding risk to human life that race created; there was neither independent intervening cause nor manslaughter exception; and defendant was "involved in an accident" under hit and run statute.

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