CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder for having ended a verbal domestic fight with his wife by stabbing her nineteen times. Defendant appeals, arguing that he was adequately provoked by his Wife’s words such that the provocation should mitigate the conviction to manslaughter.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Words alone are not adequate provocation to reduce a second- degree murder charge to voluntary manslaughter.
Issue. Are words alone adequate provocation to reduce a second degree murder charge to voluntary manslaughter?
Held. No. Judgment affirmed.
The Court of Appeals of Maryland holds that the standard for provocation is objective rather than subjective and therefore the defendant’s peculiarities of the mind are of no effect. For provocation to be adequate, it must be “calculated to inflame the passion of a reasonable man and tend to cause him to act for the moment from passion other than reason.”
Words alone are not adequate provocation to reduce a second degree murder charge to voluntary manslaughter.
Discussion. This case introduces one approach to the provocation defense, whereby a defendant’s mental infirmities are not taken into account in determining whether there was adequate provocation to mitigate a charge of second degree murder.