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.
Here the Commonwealth had an interest that the deceased should not be killed by the wanton or reckless conduct of himself and others.View Full Point of Law
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.