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People v. Washington

    Brief Fact Summary. Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his homosexual lover. Appellant argued that because he was homosexual, the standard needed to account for that versus a ‘reasonable person’ should be different

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Appellant may not set up his own standard of conduct and justify or excuse himself because he in fact had passions aroused.

    Facts. Appellant was found guilty of second-degree murder. Victim was shot by Appellant, his homosexual partner, while the two were riding in Victim’s car. The killing resulted from a lover’s quarrel. Appellant argued that in defining heat of passion, the Court should modify the standard of “an ordinarily reasonable person of average disposition” to account for his homosexuality.

    Issue. What the appropriate standard should be for a heat of passion defense.

    Held. Affirmed.
    To be sufficient to reduce a homicide to manslaughter, the heat of passion must be such as would naturally be aroused in the mind of an ordinary, reasonable person, under the given facts and circumstances, or in the mind of a person of ordinary self control.

    The heat of passion must be such a passion as would naturally be aroused in the mind of an ordinarily reasonable person under the given facts and circumstances, no defendant may set up his own standard of conduct and justify or excuse himself because in fact his individual passions were aroused.


    Discussion. The Court found that the appropriate standard was in use. Under Appellant’s suggested standard, each individual defendant would have the ability to set up a standard that would account for their individual personalities. The current reasonable person standard ensured that no man of extremely violent passion could justify killing.


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