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Criminal negligence is a lesser culpable mental state than recklessness. The key to criminal negligence is that the actor failed to perceive the risk. The mental states of recklessness and criminal negligence cannot co-exist.
Edward Patrick Conroy accidentally shot and killed a female escort hired from a service. Conroy was convicted by a jury of the lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter and found to have used a deadly weapon in the commission of the offense and was sentenced to three years confinement. On appeal, Conroy contended that there was insufficient evidence to establish the element of reckless mental state to support his conviction.
Was Conroy’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to establish the element of reckless mental state to support his conviction meritorious?
The court reversed the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court. The court rejected Conroy’s contention, finding that a jury could have rationally found that Conroy was aware of the risk of death associated with his actions, that the risk was substantial and unjustifiable, and that Conroy consciously disregarded that risk. The court found that the trial court committed a reversible error in failing to include Conroy’s requested instruction on criminally negligent homicide in the jury charge in light that certain evidence raised the issue of whether Conroy was criminally negligent. The court held that the trial court did not err in refusing to submit Conroy’s requested instruction on involuntary conduct.