Stephenson v. State Case Brief

Summary of Stephenson v. State, Supreme Court of Inidana (1932)

Defendant: Stephenson; the defendant kidnapped and raped a woman whom he knew socially. During the sexual intercourse, the defendant bit the victim leaving many small wounds on her body. The victim could not handle the trauma and she bought poison and tried to commit suicide. The defendant tried to take the victim to the hospital, but she rejected the offer. Later, the victim became extremely ill and after getting medical help, most of her wounds started healing but one of the wounds got infected resulting in the death of the victim. It was determined that the death of the victim was caused by the poison, her lack of food and rest, and mental shock. The defendant was convicted with second degree murder by the jury. Now the defendant appeals and argues that his actions were not the ‘proximate cause’ of the death and it was the poison which the victim took which was the proximate casue of her death.

Issue: Should the defendant be convicted with murder?

Holding: Yes

Legal Reasoning: The court used the case Rex v. Valade where the defendant had raped a young girl and the girl had jumped out of the window to escape the defendant and subsequently died from her injuries. The defendant was convicted with murder in that case. The court argued that just like the defendant was guilty of murder in Valde, the defendant in the current case is also guilty of murder because “When suicide follows a wound inflicted by the defendant his act is homicidal, if deceased was rendered irresponsible by the wound and as a natural result of it.” So the conviction was affirmed.

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