Monday, January 15, 2007
From Foxnews.com: Brooklyn Law School CrimProf Michael Cahill recently commented on the difference between manslaughter and murder under New York Law with concern to drunk drivng cases that result in death.
In New York, a person is guilty of manslaughter when he or she is "aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk" that results in someone's death. Manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Murder, on the other hand, refers to someone who, with "depraved indifference to human life," engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death that ultimately kills someone. The punishment for "depraved indifference" murder is 25 years to life in prison.
So how is it determined whether a person's actions rise to the level of "depraved indifference?" Legal experts across the country, like CrimProf Cahill, often ask the same question.
CrimProf Cahill looked at the Heidgen case in which the 25 year old male got behind the wheel of his pickup with a blood alcohol level of .28, drove the wrong way down a highway, and plowed into a wedding limousine. When the dust had settled, 7-year-old Katie Flynn had been decapitated, the chauffer killed, and several of the girl's relatives injured. He was charged and convicted of murder.
"The fact that he was drunk, seems to evidence that he didn't have a depraved state of mind. It explains what he did in terms that suggest he wasn't making a conscious decision to play with human life." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]