The Law School Authority

Murray v. State Case Brief

Summary of Murray v. State, S. Ct. WY 1993

Facts: Donald Murray got drunk at a local bar.  When the conversations began to escalate he went home.  The victim remained drinking until later when he secured a ride to retrieve his work clothes from the defendant’s truck.  As they approached def was on the porch shooting his handgun and telling the victim to get off his property.  Despite shooting at the ground several times the victim continued to approach.  The def then shot into the ground again, whereas a round ricocheted off a rock and struck the victim in the left leg and buttock.  He was driven to another bar 15 miles away where they waited for the ambulance from Evanston.  He later died of blood loss.

Issue: Whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction for involuntary manslaughter?

Holding: Yes

Procedure: A jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  Affirmed as to modification.

Rule: Manslaughter requires recklessness and criminal negligence requires negligent homicide.  The difference is whether the def was aware, but consciously disregarded a substantial risk the result would happen or def was aware but ought to have been aware of a substantial risk the result would happen(failed to perceive the risk).

Court Rationale: The defendant was a sharpshooter during the war, an avid hunter, knew the hazards of weapons being discharged, or while drinking. Jury could infer that def, was aware of, but consciously disregarded the substantial and unjustifiable risk.  In wy where rocks are plentiful, it is reasonable to infer that shooting at someone’s feet creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of injury resulting from a ricocheting bullet.




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