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Mayes v. People

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Mayes (Defendant) was convicted of murder after he threw a glass at his wife which hit an oil lamp she carried, resulting in fatal burns.

    Facts.

    Defendant and his wife argued after he came home from a night at a saloon. His wife then told Defendant that she and their daughter were going to bed. Defendant threw a glass at his wife which hit an oil lamp she was carrying. The oil from the lamp splattered all over the wife, resulting in fatal burns. Defendant was charged with murder and the jury was instructed that an act done with an abandoned and malignant heart causing death to occur may be murder, even when there was no intent to kill. Defendant was convicted and appealed.

    Issue.

    Can a defendant be convicted of murder for an act done with an abandoned and malignant heart, even if he did not intend to kill?

    Held.

    (Scholfield, J.) Yes. A defendant can be convicted of murder for an act done with an abandoned and malignant heart, even if he did not intend to kill. While murder requires malice, that malice does not require an intent to kill. An unlawful action committed with deliberation in a situation where great bodily harm is likely to result creates an inference of malice. Defendant unlawfully threw the glass at his wife under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm. While he may not have intended to kill her, he is responsible for the consequences of his actions. Affirmed.

    Discussion.

    This type of murder results from conduct described as “aggravated recklessness” or “extreme recklessness.” Simple “recklessness” is not enough for murder and usually results in a charge of involuntary manslaughter. “Aggravated recklessness” is best defined as “a conscious disregard for human life.”


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