A Serious Case With A Big Outcome For The Defense
The South Carolina Supreme Court is truly a court that does take the appellant process serious! In a unanimous decision the court held that a trial court cannot instruct the jury to include a lesser included crime unless the facts truly warrant it. Here, according to the Supreme Court of South Carolina, there was no evidence that the Defendant acted in the “heat of passion” which is an element of the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter”. “Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being in sudden heat of passion upon sufficient legal provocation.” State v. Walker, 324 S.C. 257, 260, 478 S.E.2d 280, 281 (1996).
A lesser include crime/charge means is a crime for which all of the elements necessary to impose liability are also elements found in a more serious crime. Here, in the case attached below would be murder and manslaughter. Murder is the most of serious and manslaughter being less of the serious (hence a lesser included crime).
The Court went on further to hold:
due to the error in granting the solicitor’s request for a voluntary
manslaughter charge, [Cook] will not have to face a jury of his peers
on the charge of murder again. This is a cautionary tale for solicitors
as to the pitfalls of requesting a potential “compromise” charge which
is unsupported by the evidence.
State v. Cooley, 342 S.C. 63, 70, 536 S.E.2d 666, 670 (2000).
Cases such as the one at hand are those that truly make or break the defense. Look at this case closely and reach your own decision. A trial judge and a solicitor both thought the facts warranted to charge of Voluntary Manslaughter. However, the five Justices and Defense Counsel disagreed. Another case that highlights just how important it is to have a seasoned attorney at all stages of your legal matter.