Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Bier case brief

State v. Bier case brief summary
591 P.2d 1115 (1979)

Defendant challenged a judgment, after a jury trial in the District Court of Cascade County, Eighth Judicial District (Montana), convicting him of negligent homicide, Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-104. He asserted that insufficient evidence supported the verdict, the trial court erred in refusing a jury view under Mont. Code Ann. § 46-16-502, and that the trial court erroneously excluded a lay opinion of bullet angles under Mont. R. Evid. 701.

Defendant was convicted of negligent homicide of his wife in violation of Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-104, and he appealed. He urged that the State failed to prove the required mental state and causation elements for a prime facie case of negligent homicide, and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a view of the scene of the offense under Mont. Code Ann. § 46-16-502.


  • The court disagreed and affirmed. 
  • It explained that defendant's conduct in pulling out, cocking, and throwing a loaded gun within reach of his intoxicated wife clearly qualified as a gross deviation giving rise to criminal culpability. 
  • Further, the risk that, in a highly intoxicated state, his wife would shoot either defendant or herself, was a foreseeable risk. 
  • Indeed, he had challenged her to use the gun. 
  • The State met its burden of showing that the victim had been foreseeably endangered, in a foreseeable manner, and to a degree of harm that was foreseeable. 
  • As defendant's testimony as to how the gun had been fired was sufficient credible evidence for the jury to find guilt of negligent homicide, there was no prejudice to him in the denial of a jury view, and thus, no abuse of discretion.

The court affirmed the judgment.

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