CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant Oxendine, Sr., was convicted by jury of manslaughter for the death of his son, Jeffrey Oxendine, Jr., whom the Defendant had beaten or kicked in the abdomen. The Defendant was convicted of manslaughter, and he argued on appeal that since the Defendant’s girlfriend had already delivered a fatal blow to the victim, he did not actually cause the victim’s death.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Contribution to or aggravation of death without acceleration of death is insufficient to establish the causation of death required for a conviction of manslaughter.
Almost anything is possible, and it is thus improper to allow a jury to consider and base a verdict upon a possible cause of death.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the Defendant’s conduct hasten death, thereby being deemed to have caused death?
To be liable for the death of another, one’s conduct must cause death. Causation is defined as the “antecedent but for which the result in question would not have occurred.”
In the case of two injuries, if a later nonlethal injury accelerates death, then the actor is liable for the death. However, where the injury merely adds to the victim’s pain without accelerating the death, the actor did not cause death.
Here, the evidence shows that the defendant did not inflict a lethal injury. Neither of the expert medical witnesses of the prosecution could state with any degree of medical certainty that the injury inflicted by the defendant contributed to the death of the child. Hence, the Defendant cannot be guilty of manslaughter.
Discussion. To be criminally liable for the death of another, one must “cause” death. Causation is defined as the “antecedent but for which the result in question would not have occurred.” Where two injuries have been inflicted, the latter injury “causes” death only if it accelerates death.