Articles Posted in Manslaughter

A Massachusetts woman’s conviction for involuntary manslaughterwas upheld by that state’s high court after a lower court found her guilty of the charge after she encouraged her boyfriend by text messages to follow through on his suicide. The Massachusetts involuntary manslaughter law is very similar to the law in California. Both states define involuntary manslaughter as act not intended to cause the death of another person but was committed in such a careless way that a death of another occurred. In Massachusetts, the act is defined as “wanton and reckless conduct,” while in California it is defined as “without due caution.”

Some typical examples of involuntary manslaughterinclude the Dr. Conrad Murry/Michael Jackson case where the doctor prescribed what ultimately was a lethal dose of a drug. Another example might be where a worker dies due to a dangerous condition in the workplace and the owner was aware of that condition.

But the Massachusetts case is not the typical manslaughter case. In that case, the young woman’s boyfriend parked his truck in a parking lot and then diverted carbon monoxide from the truck into the cab where he was sitting. He started to have second thoughts and texted his girlfriend. Instead of talking him out of it, she egged him on, telling him to get back in the truck and finish the job. Her text messages included statements such as “the time is right” and “your family will understand and accept it.” Apparently, her boyfriend had been struggling with depression, which made him a “vulnerable person” according the Massachusetts court. The high court found that the “coercive quality” of the young woman’s text messages overwhelmed the compromised willpower of the depressed boyfriend and had it not been for her encouragement, he would not have stepped back into his truck and killed himself.


Stupidity often puts otherwise law-abiding people on the wrong side of the law, but this act in Minnesota might be among the stupidest ever. A young and very pregnant woman, 19 years old, shot and killed her boyfriend. The entire killing was videotaped. Why? Because her boyfriend, in his quest for fame on YouTube asked his girlfriend to shoot him. The girlfriend, carrying the couple’s now fatherless child, made an announcement on Twitter a few hours before the event, stating that they were going to videotape one of the most dangerous stunts ever.

The young man, now deceased, believed that a bullet could not penetrate the hardcover encyclopedia he held against his chest upon which his girlfriend then pulled the trigger on a .50 caliber pistol point blank at the book. It’s all there on the video they planned to post on YouTube.


A woman was driving her vehicle in Maui with her twin sister sitting in the passenger seat. Witnesses said they observed the two sisters arguing in the car while the car was stopped and that the sister in the passenger seat was seen pulling the driver’s hair. Another witness described the driver as being in a rage before the vehicle took off for a sharp left into a rock wall and then plunging 200 feet over a cliff. The passenger died. The driver was charged with the second-degree murder of her sister.

The prosecutor alleged that the driver intentionally caused the death of her sister. In Hawaii second-degree murder can be charged if a person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person. At first glance, you might ask: How could the driver know that the accident would kill her sister, and perhaps more to point, kill her sister but not her? Maybe the driver intended it to be a murder/suicide. And you might also wonder how the prosecution could prove that the driver intended to kill her sister. That witnesses saw the two in a heated argument in the vehicle plus evidence that when the driver went off the cliff, she did not hit her brakes, was not enough for the judge. At the preliminary hearing the judge dismissed the murder charge after finding that there was no probable cause to support the charge. The judge determined that the prosecution lacked sufficient evidence to support the allegation that the driver intentionally caused her sister’s death.

In February of last year, Paige Looney let her two boys swim in the pool in their backyard in Anaheim while she drank alcohol. Her 13-month-old son Eric and his four-year-old brother were swimming in the pool when suddenly Eric started drowning. Looney did not notice her son drowning though. When Looney’s 12-year-old daughter came home from school and saw her brother in the pool, she called 911 immediately. When paramedics arrived, Looney had pulled Eric out of the pool and was attempting to give him CPR but it was too late and Eric had passed away.

Looney was initially charged with murder but plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter instead. She has already spent a year and a half in jail and will not have to spend one more year there, before being released. She was also ordered to complete a two year residential drug treatment program.

It is very important to keep an eye on your children at all times, especially near water. There are thousands of babies that drown in pools and bathtubs yearly, even when a parent turns around for just a second. Since Looney was careless and negligent in watching her child, she has to pay legal consequences for it. Whether you live in Tustin, Orange or Aliso Viejo, if you are charged with manslaughter, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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In December of last year, as John Sales was driving with his children in Orange, a car in front of him stopped on the freeway. Sales stepped on his breaks last minute to avoid a collision with the car in front of him. A car behind him, driven by Owen Kitchen, failed to see that Sales had hit his breaks and crashed right into Sales’ car. Kitchen’s car then caught on fire so Sales and a nearby officer got the kids out of the car as fast as they could. The kids were badly injured from the collision and were taken to the hospital to be checked out. Sophia Sales, Sales’ 2-year-old daughter died from her injuries.

This week, Owen Kitchen was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and possession of marijuana, although he was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash. The reason that this charge is just a misdemeanor is because it was done carelessly and negligently. The charge would have been a felony if there was gross negligence in that he knew that acting in this way would cause death. Clearly, this was just an accident and if he is convicted of both charges, he should not face more than 1 year in jail.

Whether you live in Tustin, Aliso Viejo or Anaheim Hills, if you are charged with manslaughter, call an experienced OC criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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Martin Burt Kuehl of Costa Mesa must stand trial for gross vehicular manslaughter for the death of Martha Ovalle. In August of 2008, Kuehl was driving and texting in Newport Beach. He failed to see a pedestrian, Ovalle, and ran right into her. Although phone records showed no texts at the exact time of the incident, Kuehl had his phone in his hand during the accident and had been texting in a prior intersection. If convicted of this crime, Kuehl will face up to 9 years in state prison.

Possible defenses include that Kuehl was not in fact texting or talking on the phone and instead, was just negligent in failing to see Ovalle. Another defense could be that the pedestrian crossed when she was not supposed to. Lastly, the defense attorney could say that road conditions caused the accident and it was not the fault of Kuehl. Nevertheless, this manslaughter charge is serious and Kuehl will need a good defense attorney to assist him.

Whether you live in Yorba Linda, Laguna Niguel or Aliso Viejo, if you are charged with manslaughter, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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Dr. James Clyde Fish, a 90-year-old retired physician, shot and killed his 88 year-old-wife and tried to shoot himself on Sunday in Laguna Woods, California. Allegedly, he gave his wife morphine and then attempted to shoot her in the head, but the gun did not fire. A caretaker rushed in and took the gun away. She called the couple’s son who told the caregiver to call 911. Meanwhile, Fish had a second gun that he used to shoot and kill his wife and then shoot himself in the head. He was immediately taken to the hospital and has been charged with manslaughter.

It is likely that Fish tried to kill his wife because she was suffering and under hospice care. He likely tried to kill himself because he did not want to live life without his wife. In California, euthanasia is against the law. You may not kill someone to relieve their suffering without being charged with murder or manslaughter. Although Fish was charged with manslaughter, it is unclear whether he will have to spend time in prison for his actions, because of his old age.

Whether you live in Anaheim Hills, Santa Ana or Coto De Caza, if you are charged with manslaughter, you will need an experienced Orange County defense attorney to assist you in court.

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