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Unformatted text preview: September 18, 2008 Unintentional Killings: Unjustified Risk-Taking • The result of unjustified risk-taking • Bottom end of the culpability scale is mere civil liability for a wrongful death, where there may be incontestable fault and perhaps heavy civil liability but still something less than criminality. • Blameworthy negligence are those more gross deviations from the standard of care used by an ordinary person where the conduct can reasonably be said to manifest a wanton or reckless disregard of human life (involuntary manslaughter). • Acts of a life endangering nature so reckless that they manifest a wanton indifference to human life (murder of the depraved heart). • Civil liability- torts… Berry v. Superior Court California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, 1989 Law: Two requirements: 1) Shown extreme indifference to the value of human life. 2) D was aware of the risks of the conduct or the conduct was contrary to law. Facts: A fighting pit bull was tied at the D’s house guarding a marijuana patch. A neighbour’s 2 year old child, left unguarded, roamed into the yard and was attacked and died. Brother in law told mother that D’s dog attacked James. Father came and saw this and screamed for D to get his dog off child. Volunteer fireman with paramedic training tried to help, but James died before the emergency arrived. Berry had a fighting pit bull (bought from a breeder of fighting dogs, D knew about dog’s fighting abilities and hard bite). They found a 6 week conditioning pamphlet used to prepare doings for fight, a treadmill used for increase dog’s endurance and a break stick (used to pry dogs apart in fight). D told them not to be afraid because Willy was behind a fence, but fence was not enclosed and did not prevent access to the area. D had Will in the fence near some marijuana plants, anyone who wanted to get to the plants had to cross the dog. The defendant was charged with murder. He sought to have the charge dismissed on the basis that the evidence presented fell short of “implied malice”. Reasoning: The court cites several facts which taken together it suggests are sufficient to show recklessness: 1. The defendant kept a fighting dog and told others it was dangerous. 2. The defendant lived near kids. 3. The defendant kept the dog chained to a fence. The fighting dog did pose a treat to humans and it had an exceptionally hard bite and D was aware of these facts. Issue: Can D be tried for murder with implied malice? Notes from the Case: • Who’s taking the risks? Dog owner and parents. • We all have to live somewhere so the Soto’s can’t really move, so they can’t be really blamed. People v. Nieto Benitez Supreme Court of California, 1992 Law: Second degree murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought but without the additional elements like premeditation, deliberation and wilfulness....
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This note was uploaded on 10/20/2009 for the course CRIM LAW 107 taught by Professor Swedlow during the Fall '08 term at McMaster University.
- Fall '08