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Brief Fact Summary. Newton (D) was convicted of manslaughter for the murder of a police officer who was shot in a struggle with D. D testified that he was unconscious during the interval, however the trial judge failed to instruct the jury on the subject of unconsciousness as a defense to a charge of criminal homicide.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Prejudicial error exists where a judge refuses a requested jury instruction where evidence of involuntary unconsciousness has been produced in a homicide prosecution and would act as a complete defense if found to have existed.
Issue. Did the trial court err in failing to instruct the jury on the subject of unconsciousness as a defense to a charge of criminal homicide?
The trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the subject of unconsciousness, as involuntary unconsciousness is a complete defense to a charge of criminal homicide and evidence of such involuntary confidence has been produced.
Discussion. The rule of unconsciousness can apply where the subject physically acts but is not, at the time, conscious of the acting.