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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

5.1-3  Manslaughter in the First Degree (Reckless Indifference) -- 53a-55 (a) (3)

Revised to December 1, 2007

The defendant is charged [in count ___] with manslaughter in the first degree.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent as follows: 

a person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life, (he/she) recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes the death of another person.

For the defendant to be found guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:  

Element 1 - Conduct creating a grave risk of death
The first element is that the defendant engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death.
 

Element 2 - Recklessness
The second element is that the defendant acted recklessly.  A person acts "recklessly" with respect to a result or circumstances when (he/she) is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstances exist.  <See Recklessness, Instruction 2.3-4.>
 

Element 3 - Extreme indifference to human life
The third element is that the defendant's conduct demonstrated an extreme indifference to human life.  "Indifference" means simply not caring.  It means lacking any interest in a matter one way or the other.  Extreme means existing in the highest or greatest possible degree.  Extreme indifference is more than ordinary indifference.  It is synonymous with excessive and is the greatest departure from the ordinary.  What evinces an extreme indifference to human life is a question of fact.

Element 4 - Caused death
The fourth element is that the defendant's conduct caused the death of <insert name of decedent>.  This means that the defendant's conduct was the proximate cause of the decedent's death.  You must find it proved beyond a reasonable doubt that <insert name of decedent> died as a result of the actions of the defendant.  <See Proximate Cause, Instruction 2.6-1.>
 

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death, 2) the defendant acted recklessly, 3) (he/she) acted under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life, and 4) the defendant caused the death of <insert name of decedent>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of manslaughter in the first degree, then you shall find the defendant guilty.  On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.
 


 

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