JURI 540_LEGAL MEMORANDUM.docx - MEMORANDUM OF LAW To...

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MEMORANDUM OF LAW To: Basyle Tchividjian , Esq., Chief of Felony Prosecutions From: Student Intern Date: February 25, 2018 Re: Toby Smith Case: Determination of Charges in Death of Biological Child Statement of Facts: Toby Smith was terminated from his managerial position at The Cheesecake Factory, Inc. Mr. Smith’s pride prevented him from applying for unemployment benefits and state assistance; furthermore, he decided to depend on his savings to sustain his family’s needs. One of his children became critically ill; however, Mr. Smith did not have health insurance and refused to seek medical attention for his child at a state clinic because he equated this with charity. Ultimately, depleted by dietary deficiency, the child’s death was contributed to the illness. Toby Smith asserted that as the head of the household, it was his responsibility and constitutional right to decide how to manage the affairs of his family, including, but not limited to medical care. Mr. Smith’s decision to withhold medical care from his sick child was not based on any conscientious objections or religious convictions; rather, an aversion to what Mr. Smith referred to as handouts. Question(s) Presented: (1) Did Toby Smith understand that his decision to withhold medical care from his child was high risk and could possibly result in the child’s death? (2) If the child’s proper nutritional needs would have been met, would the child have survived the illness? (3) Should the state seek murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter charges? Brief Answer: On January 1, 2017, Missouri Laws § 568.560, were updated referencing abuse or neglect of a 1
MEMORANDUM OF LAW child, penalty. MO Rev Stat §568.060 (2013) . Under these provisions, it is a class A felony if a child dies as the result of abuse or neglect sustained from conduct chargeable under the provisions of this section. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter the requirement that every element of any crime referred to herein must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Discussion: Issues surrounding parental denial of medical care for children in need are a contentious issue, particularly when a child dies because of physical and medical neglect. In the case of Toby Smith, he ceased to have the resources to provide adequately for his family, further exacerbated by refusing the option to take his child to a state clinic for care due to his pride. Further analysis will provide the best determination referencing the appropriate homicide charge to file against Toby Smith. Murder I: First degree or capital murder is a willful, deliberate, premeditated killing with intent and malice, which is the grand criterion distinguishing murder from other killing. 1 Criminal homicide is one committed without justification or excuse. It could be argued that Toby Smith acted with deliberation when he declined taking his sick child to a state clinic; yet, Mr. Smith’s actions, although misguided, were not of malicious intent (mens rea).

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