Brief Fact Summary. The Defendants, Atencio and another individual (Defendants), were convicted of manslaughter arising out of the death of their companion who fatally shot himself in the head during a game of “Russian roulette.”
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A person is criminally liable for the death of another where he cooperates in a reckless activity that brings about the death of another participant.
Issue. Is a defendant criminally liable for the death of another person merely as a result of participating in a reckless activity in concert with the decedent?
Held. Yes. Judgment affirmed.
There was a duty incumbent upon the Defendants not to cooperate with the decedent in playing a reckless “game” that would likely result in someone’s death. Though Defendants did not force decedent to fire a loaded gun at his head, there was without question mutual encouragement in a joint enterprise that ran the risk of death as a probable consequence. Defendants were more than merely present at a crime.
Discussion. In this case, the court holds mutual participation in a reckless enterprise is enough to hold any one participant criminally responsible for the death of any other participant arising out of the reckless conduct required by the enterprise.