To be a sufficiently direct cause of death so as to warrant the imposition of a criminal penalty therefor, it is not necessary that the ultimate harm be intended by the actor. It will suffice if it can be said beyond a reasonable doubt, as indeed it can be here said, that the ultimate harm is something which should have been foreseen as being reasonably related to the acts of the accused.
Defendants and the victim were drinking at a bar. The Victim inquired if someone would give him a ride, and defendants, who according to their statements had already decided to steal the victim's money, agreed to drive him. During the drive, defendants demanded the victim's money and then forced the victim to exit the vehicle. As the victim was thrust from the car, he fell onto the shoulder of the rural two-lane highway. A half-hour later the victim was hit by a truck driving down the road. Defendants were convicted of murder, robbery in the second degree, and grand larceny in the third degree.
Was the death of the victim caused by the defendants' acts?
The court affirmed holding that defendants' activities were a sufficiently direct cause of the death of the victim so as to warrant the imposition of criminal sanctions. The court would not disturb the jury's determination that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants' actions came clearly withinN.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(2) and caused the death of the victim.