Brief Fact Summary.
Defendant, Brown, was convicted of first degree murder and child neglect stemming from the death of his child.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The prosecution has the burden of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt, every single element that is required for a respective crime.
Brown’s child was born with a severe speech problem, along with an overall general global development delay. One evening, Brown and his wife were having a fight and a neighbor reported that the fight ended with a loud thump against one of the walls of Brown’s home. A couple of hours later, Brown's wife called the police, claiming that their son was having trouble breathing after he had fallen down some stairs, but the child was dead by the time the ambulance arrived. The child had suffered multiple fractures to his skull and brain swelling, and an expert testified the injuries were due to severe shaking. The child also had various injuries stemming from child abuse. Brown was charged with first degree murder.
Whether the premeditation element of first degree murder is satisfied even though the defendant did not intend to kill his victim, but had inflicted abuse upon the child in the past?
No. The premeditation element of first degree murder is not satisfied even though the defendant did intend to kill his victim, and had inflicted abuse upon the child in the past?
In order to be guilty of first degree murder, the killing must be don’t with premeditation, which the prosecution has failed to prove in this case. If one element is missing of a respective crime, then the defendant cannot be charged with that crime. Here, Brown did not premeditate that his child would die on that evening, regardless of how malicious the killing is. He only intended to harm the child but had no intention of causing his death. Due to the malicious nature of the killing, Brown may be guilty of second degree murder but without the premeditation element being satisfied, there can be no conviction for first degree murder.