It is indispensable, that before one can be convicted of the crime of murder, the act be done with malice aforethought, either express or implied. The crime of manslaughter, to use the language of the statute, is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice, express or implied, and without any mixture of deliberation whatever. It must be voluntary, upon a sudden heat of passion, caused by a provocation apparently sufficient to make the passion irresistible. In cases of voluntary manslaughter, there must be a serious and highly provoking injury inflicted upon the person killing, sufficient to excite an irresistible passion in a reasonable person, or an attempt by the person killed to commit a serious personal injury on the person killing. The killing must be the result of that sudden, violent impulse of passion supposed to be irresistible; for if there should appear to have been an interval between the assault or provocation given, and the killing, sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, the killing shall be attributed to deliberate revenge, and punished as murder.
The evidence showed that the deceased was drunk and approached defendant and others demanding that they gamble with him. The deceased became belligerent when they refused and advanced on them with a broken bottle. During the course of the ensuing fight with defendant and others, defendant was cut and he ultimately killed the deceased. Defendant's main argument was that he was guilty, if at all, of only manslaughter and not murder. The trial court convicted him of murder. On appeal, the court reversed the murder conviction and instructed the trial court to convict defendant of manslaughter.
Is there evidence showing that defendant is guilty only of voluntary manslaughter?
The court noted that the fight was continuous, defendant was injured, the deceased was the aggressor, and that insufficient time elapsed to "cool the blood" before the killing occurred. Under the circumstances, the crime was manslaughter, not murder. The court had the authority under Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 38, § 121-9(b)(4) (1963) to reduce the degree of the offense on review.