The jury has asked for further clarification of the jury instructions for manslaughter. I used the standard Florida Supreme Court boilerplate and the reasonable use of force special instructions to outline below what I believe to be very close to what this jury received with regard to manslaughter. Both the prosecution and the defense has agreed that they want to ask the jury for specific areas that they need clarification on and are preparing that answer for the now. I will update in comments when the clarified jury questions are presented in court.
This is what the court returned in answer to the jury question: The court cannot engage in general discussions but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter. If you have a specific instruction please submit it.
Click through for the jury instructions (or as close as I can guesstimate to what they received for manslaughter.)
§ 782.07, Fla. Stat.
To prove the crime of Manslaughter, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. (Victim) is dead.
2. a. (Defendant) intentionally committed an act or acts that
caused the death of (victim).
The defendant cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide:
Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence.
The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon the defendant, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which the defendant was at the time of the killing. § 782.02, Fla. Stat.
Excusable Homicide: The killing of a human being is excusable, and therefore lawful, under any one of the following three circumstances:
- 1. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent, or
- 2. When the killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or
In order to convict of manslaughter by act, it is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had an intent to cause death, only an intent to commit an act that was not merely negligent, justified, or excusable and which caused death.
The above is what I believe is the relevant boilerplate from the standard manslaughter charge. In addition, a special instruction of justifiable use of force was given. That can be a very lengthy instruction. Here is something similar to what they received. Most likely if either side thinks some part of this that was not given, might be helpful it will be added. The main thing they have to determine at this point is justifiable homicide.
3.6(f) JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE
An issue in this case is whether the defendant acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the offense with which (defendant) is charged if the [death of] [injury to] (victim) resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.
The use of deadly force is justifiable only if the defendant reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to [himself] [herself] while resisting:
1. another’s attempt to murder [him] [her], or
2. any attempt to commit (applicable felony) upon [him] [her], or A person is justified in using deadly force if [he] [she] reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to [himself] [herself] or another.
No duty to retreat. § 776.013(3), Fla. Stat. See Novak v. State 974 So. 2d 520 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) regarding unlawful activity. There is no duty to retreat where the defendant was not engaged in any unlawful activity other than the crime(s) for which the defendant asserts the justification.
If the defendant [was not engaged in an unlawful activity and] was attacked in any place where [he] [she] had a right to be, [he] [she] had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand [his] [her] ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if [he] [she] reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to [himself] [herself] [another] or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of the defendant and (victim).
If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty.
However, if from the evidence you are convinced that the defendant was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find [him] [her] guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved