Koppersmith v. State

Koppersmith v. State - D entitled to have jury instructed...

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Koppersmith v. State, Ala.Crim.App (1999) Facts: Following argument and struggle in which D. tried to stop wife from going back into house and she bit him, D’s wife died as result of head injury. Not clear if head injury caused by his slamming her head into brick in grass near porch or from her falling there. D changed story from police interrogation to trial. He was charged with murder, but convicted of a ‘reckless manslaughter,’ sentenced to 20 years, and appeals. Trial judge denied D’s request for jury instruction on “negligent homicide.” Issue : Whether trial judge erred in refusing instruction on negligent homicide? Law: Reckless = D knew and consciously disregards risk. Negligent = D did not know, but should have known the risk.
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Unformatted text preview: D entitled to have jury instructed as to all offenses where there is “reasonable theory from the evidence supporting his position.” Decision: Reversed. There were facts in evidence from which a jury might concluded that D only was negligent, not reckless, in his wife’s death. Rationale: Jury could have believed that his conduct was unintentional and he was unaware of risk because: he may have acted only reflexively after she bit him; he did not know there were bricks in yard when he slammed her head on grass. Dissent: Comments: Seems to me that slamming someone’s head on ground, even if you think it is only grass, is reckless!...
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