Maher v. People

10 Mich. 212 (1862)

 

RULE:

 If the act of killing, though intentional, be committed under the influence of passion or in heat of blood, produced by an adequate or reasonable provocation, and before a reasonable time has elapsed for the blood to cool and reason to resume its habitual control, and is the result of the temporary excitement, by which the control of reason was disturbed, rather than of any wickedness of heart or cruelty or recklessness of disposition; then the law, out of indulgence to the frailty of human nature, or rather, in recognition of the laws upon which human nature is constituted, very properly regards the offense as of a less heinous character than murder, and gives it the designation of manslaughter.

FACTS:

Defendant shot the victim 30 minutes after defendant believed the victim had adulterous intercourse with defendant's wife. The court reversed and remanded for a new trial because the admission of the evidence of the adultery would have gone to show the state of mind of defendant, and the question as to whether 30 minutes was a sufficient cooling off period after such a provocation was a proper question for the jury to consider in determining whether the offence, if successful, would have been murder or manslaughter.

ISSUE:

Would the proposed evidence have tended to reduce the killing--had death ensued--from murder to manslaughter, or rather, to have given it the character of manslaughter instead of murder?

 

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The trial court excluded evidence relevant to defendant's state of mind at the time of the offense. The admission of the evidence of the adultery would have gone to show the state of mind of defendant, and the question as to whether 30 minutes was a sufficient cooling off period after such a provocation was a proper question for the jury to consider in determining whether the offence, if successful, would have been murder or manslaughter.

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