A Little Information on the Casey Anthony Murder Trial

On October 14, 2008, Casey Anthony was indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of providing false information to police.

She is charged in Florida with the following:

520. Murder With Malice Aforethought

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with murder.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant committed an act that caused the death of (another person/ [or] a fetus);

[AND]

2. When the defendant acted, (he/she) had a state of mind called malice aforethought(;/.)

<Give element 3 when instructing on justifiable or excusable homicide>

[AND

3. (he/she) killed without lawful (excuse/[or] justification).]

There are two kinds of malice aforethought, express malice and implied malice. Proof of either is sufficient to establish the state of mind required for murder.

The defendant acted with express malice if (he/she) unlawfully intended to kill.

The defendant acted with implied malice if:

1. (he/she) intentionally committed an act;

2. The natural consequences of the act were dangerous to human life;

3. At the time (he/she) acted, (he/she) knew (his/her) act was dangerous to human life;

AND

4. (he/she) deliberately acted with conscious disregard for (human/ [or] fetal) life.

Malice aforethought does not require hatred or ill will toward the victim. It is a mental state that must be formed before the act that causes death is committed. It does not require deliberation or the passage of any particular period of time.

[A fetus is an unborn human being that has progressed beyond the embryonic stage after major structures have been outlined, which occurs at seven to eight weeks of development.]

[An act causes death if the death is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.]

[There may be more than one cause of death. An act causes death only if it is a substantial factor in causing the death. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that causes the death.]

[(A/An) <insert description of person owing duty> has a legal duty to (help/care for/rescue/warn/maintain the property of/ <insert other required action[s]>) <insert description of decedent/person to whom duty is owed>.

If you conclude that the defendant owed a duty to <insert name of decedent>, and the defendant failed to perform that duty, (his/her) failure to act is the same as doing a negligent or injurious act.]

820. Assault Causing Death of Child

820. Assault Causing Death of Child

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with killing a child under the age of 8 by assaulting the child with force likely to produce great bodily injury.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant had care or custody of a child who was under the age of 8;

2. The defendant did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to the child;

3. The defendant did that act willfully;

4. The force used was likely to produce great bodily injury;

5. When the defendant acted, (he/she) was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that (his/ her) act by its nature would directly and probably result in great bodily injury to the child;

6. When the defendant acted, (he/she) had the present ability to apply force likely to produce great bodily injury to the child;

[AND]

7. The defendant’s act caused the child’s death(;/.)

<Give element 8 when instructing on parental right to discipline>

[AND

8. When the defendant acted, (he/she) was not reasonably disciplining a child.]

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.

An act causes death if:

1. The death was the natural and probable consequence of the act;

2. The act was a direct and substantial factor in causing the death;

AND

3. The death would not have happened without the act.

A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.

A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that caused the death.

[Under the law, a person becomes one year older as soon as the first minute of his or her birthday has begun.]

570. Voluntary Manslaughter: Heat of Passion – Lesser Included Offense

A killing that would otherwise be murder is reduced to voluntary manslaughter if the defendant killed someone because of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.

The defendant killed someone because of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion if:

1. The defendant was provoked;

2. As a result of the provocation, the defendant acted rashly and under the influence of intense emotion that obscured (his/her) reasoning or judgment;

AND

3. The provocation would have caused a person of average disposition to act rashly and without due deliberation, that is, from passion rather than from judgment.

Heat of passion does not require anger, rage, or any specific emotion. It can be any violent or intense emotion that causes a person to act without due deliberation and reflection.

In order for heat of passion to reduce a murder to voluntary manslaughter, the defendant must have acted under the direct and immediate influence of provocation as I have defined it. While no specific type of provocation is required, slight or remote provocation is not sufficient. Sufficient provocation may occur over a short or long period of time.

It is not enough that the defendant simply was provoked. The defendant is not allowed to set up (his/her) own standard of conduct. You must decide whether the defendant was provoked and whether the provocation was sufficient. In deciding whether the provocation was sufficient, consider whether a person of average disposition would have been provoked and how such a person would react in the same situation knowing the same facts.

[If enough time passed between the provocation and the killing for a person of average disposition to “cool off” and regain his or her clear reasoning and judgment, then the killing is not reduced to voluntary manslaughter on this basis.]

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not kill as the result of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of murder.

“Every person who displays or causes or permits to be displayed or has in his possession any driver’s license or identification card of the type enumerated in Section 470a with the intent that such driver’s license or identification card be used to facilitate the commission of any forgery, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year.”2

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