Law School Case Brief
State v. Smith - 2007-Ohio-1884 (Ct. App.)
Under Ohio R.C. § 2903.04(A), a person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when he causes the death of another "as a proximate result" of the commission of an underlying felony offense.
Defendant was convicted for felonious assault and involuntary manslaughter. Defendant assaulted the victim by punching him in the head. The victim fell to the ground, hitting his head as he went, which caused him additional head injuries. The victim stopped taking his medications after the incident because he was diabetic. Injuries ensued that resulted in his death. On appeal, the court affirmed the decision of the trial court, holding that the victim’s lapse in his care was not an intervening cause that broke the chain of legal causation following the assault.
Does the failure of the victim to take medications for diabetes break the chain of legal causation set in motion by the defendant?
After reviewing the record, and considering the credibility of the State's witnesses, the appellate court held that the State has presented substantial evidence upon which the jury could have reasonably concluded, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Smith's punch to the head proximately caused the victim’s death. The victim's lapse in his care, which led to his death, was not unforeseeable or abnormal, such that it was not an intervening cause that broke the chain of legal causation stemming from the assault. Accordingly, the weight and sufficiency of the evidence supported the conviction for involuntary manslaughter.
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