Summary of Midgett v. State, Supreme Court of Arkansas, 1987
Facts: Defendant severely abused his son. In one such incident, the defendant was drunk and he hit his son in the stomach with his fists. These blows proved to be fatal.
Procedure: At trial, the defendant was found guilty of 1st degree murder.
Issue: Can the conviction of 1st degree murder stand in the given facts?
Rationale: Even though the acts of the defendant were outrageous, they still lack premeditation or deliberation to support a 1st degree murder conviction. The defendant did not intend to kill his son and he only intended to further abuse him. Some states have adopted statutes that make deaths resulting from child abuse and torture fall under first degree murder. But in the absence of such statute, it is the duty of the court to rule in favor of the defendant.
Dissent: The defendant continuously starved, choked, and hit his child and a jury reasonably came to the conclusion that he intended for the child to die from such actions. But this court took the place of the jury in this case and came to the conclusion that the defendant did not intend to kill his child. The court clearly overstepped its boundaries.