People v. Poplis

30 N.Y.2d 85, 330 N.Y.S.2d 365, 281 N.E.2d 167 (1972)



N.Y. Penal Law § 125.15 states that a person is guilty of manslaughter when he recklessly causes the death of another person.


A three and a half year old was killed due to repeated physical beatings from her stepfather. Her death was established by medical findings and testimonies. He was convicted of murder under N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(2). On appeal, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court affirmed the trial courts decision. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York.


Was the conviction for murder proper?




The court ruled that sufficient evidence supported defendant's conviction of murder, under N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(2). In so ruling, the court observed that the medical evidence established that the victim, defendant's wife's young daughter, died from multiple physical beatings. Moreover, witnesses testified that the beatings were administered by defendant. The court also rejected defendant's argument that the evidence only supported a conviction for manslaughter, under N.Y. Penal Law § 125.15. Unlike § 125.15, N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(2) required a showing of "depraved indifference" to "human life," in addition to a demonstration of recklessness. The continued brutality to a child satisfied this graver culpability requirement.

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