Commonwealth v. McLaughlin Case Brief

Summary of Commonwealth v. McLaughlin
S. Ct. Penn, 1928

Criminal

Facts: While headed down a hill, in a car, with two friends, the defendant struck three individuals. The husband, wife and child were in the right-hand side of the “cartway," at night. The defendant was intoxicated, and failed to stop until 200 feet later.

Issue: Did the evidence against him establish the crime of second degree murder?

Holding: The conviction for second degree murder is reversed, and the case remanded without prejudice to proceed on involuntary manslaughter.

Procedure: Appeal from Trial Court conviction and sentence for murder of the second degree.

Rule: First degree Murder 1) Unlawful killing of a human with malice aforethought, express or implied; Second Degree Murder 2) all other kinds of murder are murder of the second degree, except intent to kill 3) with malice Manslaughter 1) the killing of another without malice and unintentionally, but in doing some unlawful act not amounting to a felony, nor naturally tending to cause death or great bodily harm, or in negligently doing some act lawful in itself, or by the negligent omission to perform a legal duty. Malice- wanton and reckless conduct of one who kills another from wicked disregard of the consequences of his acts, hardness of heart, cruelty, or a mind regardless of social duty.

Reasoning: The defendant lacked a specific intent to injure the victims. Defendant’s failure to see the people on the road in time to avoid striking them, combined with his attempts to administer aid afterward thwarts the element of malice necessary for any murder charge.

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