United States v. Hamilton

Facts:  Deceased and D got into a fight in which the D beat the deceased and in a fit of rage jumped on his face and kicked him in the head as well.  Deceased was brought to the hospital in a semi-comatose condition where he was violent and in shock.  He was restrained due to his violent condition.  Tubes were put in his trachea and nasal passages in order for him to breath.  Hours later, nurse takes off straps restraining him to change his clothes and when she does she does not restrain him again.  Deceased pulled out tubes himself and died.  Two physicians agreed that the cause of death was asyphxia.

Procedural History: Case is in front of the District Court.

Issue:  Should the D be found guilty of manslaughter or guilty merely of assault with a dangerous weapon?

Holding: D should be found guilty of manslaughter.

Reasoning:  The injuries inflicted on the deceased by the D were the cause of death.  Even if the act of the deceased of pulling out the tubes was conscious and deliberate, it would not help D.  1) there is not sufficient evidence to justify a finding that if the tubes had remained in the deceased he would have lived.  2) Even if it were to be assumed that the deceased might have lived if he had not pulled the tubes, this circumstance would not have any effect on the liability and responsibility of the D for the death of the deceased.

Disposition: Guilty (homicide).


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