Login

Login

To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library

Add

Search

Login
Register

Commonwealth v. Acevedo

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant and McCullough got into a fight at a party. The prosecution and defense witnesses’ stories differ. However, the fight resulted in McCullough’s death. The jury found Defendant guilty of second-degree murder. Defendant appealed. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision. Defendant appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    One is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if there an unintentional killing that resulted from a sudden passion, not actual malice.

    Facts.

    A high-school student hosted a party at her house, which was to start after a school dance. Charles McCullough went to the party. Later, German Acevedo, Defendant, arrived at the party with his friends, and McCullough blamed the group of stealing his headlights. Defendant and McCullough began to argue, and Defendant had his friends left the party. Nevertheless, Defendant later returned to the party, and another argument ignited. The defense and prosecution witnesses both testified to different versions of the events that took place. Pursuant to the defense’s witnesses, Defendant tried to leave the party when the physical fight started by going into his friend’s car, but the car was locked. Defendant then returned to the crowd outside and saw McCullough run toward him, making a fist. McCullough knocked Defendant onto the ground, and Defendant tried to push multiple attackers, but was unsuccessful. Thereafter, Defendant grabbed a knife and swung it at his attackers. Pursuant to the prosecution’s witnesses, one of Defendant’s friends punched McCullough, causing McCullough to challenge Defendant to a fight, one-on-one. McCullough hit Defendant in the head, which led to Defendant stabbing McCullough five times, killing McCullough. The judge gave the jury instructions on self defense, manslaughter, and manslaughter founded on excessive force in self-defense. However, the jury was not instructed on manslaughter founded on reasonable provocation. The jury requested the judge to inform them about malice and whether any mitigating factor could be considered. The judge told the jury that mitigating factors should not be considered, besides excessive force in self-defense. Subsequently, the jury found Defendant guilty of second-degree murder. Defendant appealed and moved for a new trial. The appellate court affirmed the conviction and denied Defendant’s motion. Subsequently, Defendant appealed that the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on manslaughter founded on reasonable provocation was reversible error.

    Issue.

    Whether one is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if there an unintentional killing that resulted from a sudden passion, not actual malice.

    Held.

    Yes, one is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if there an unintentional killing that resulted from a sudden passion, not actual malice.

    Discussion.

    One is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if there an unintentional killing that resulted from a sudden passion, not actual malice. A sudden passion can be found in actions that constitute reasonable provocation, excessive force in self-defense, and abrupt combat. Further, one is reasonably provoked when an ordinary person in the same situation would act pursuant to their passion, fear, fright, anger, or nervous excitement, instead of restraint and reflection. In this case, the jury should have been instructed on reasonable provocation if sufficient provocation existed, and the death took place before Defendant had an opportunity to calm or cool himself down. Further, the jury must find that a reasonable person in Defendant’s position would be provoked and did not have a chance to calm down, Defendant was provoked, and Defendant did not have time to calm down.  Here, there is sufficient evidence to support that Defendant was reasonably provoked, as Defendant asserts that he was outnumbered by his attackers and feared for his life. Therefore, the judge’s failure to properly instruct the jury on reasonable provocation is was a reversible error, and the lower court’s decision is reversed.


    Create New Group

      Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following