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State v. Brown

Citation. 836 S.W.2d 530 (Tenn. 1992)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Brown appealed a first-degree murder conviction after his son died from injuries sustained in child abuse and neglect.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A person can only be convicted of a crime if the person fulfills every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.


Brown’s wife called the police after their child fell down the stairs and had difficulty breathing. At trial, exams by a neurological surgeon showed that the child’s injuries were a result of child neglect and abuse. Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and appealed.


Whether a parent who has a history of abusing his child but does not intend the death of his child, fulfills the premeditation requirement of first-degree murder?


No. Brown’s conviction is reduced to second-degree murder. Although Brown intended to harm his child, he did not intend to cause his child’s death. Brown cannot be found guilty of first-degree murder because the death was not premeditated. Brown’s conviction can be reduced to second-degree murder because he acted with malicious intent and second-degree murder has no premeditation requirement.


If one element of a crime is missing, an individual cannot be found guilty of that crime.

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