Case Brief

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Emily Head
CRJU 314
Koppersmith v. Alabama
742 So. 2d 206 (Ala. 1999)

Concurrences: Judge Long, Judge McMillan, and Judge Fry
Dissents: N/A
Koppersmith and his wife Cindy were fighting in their front yard when Cindy tried to go inside. As she tried to enter the house Koppersmith stopped her and a physical dispute ensued. Cindy fell off the porch and into the yard. She died from a skull fractures to the back of her head. In Koppersmith’s statement he told police that him and Cindy were arguing on their front porch when she tried to go inside. Koppersmith tried to stop her by pushing her back. In return she punched him. He grabbed her, wrapping his arms around her, and she bit him. He slung her to the ground then jumped off the porch and straddled Cindy’s body. He began slamming her head into the ground when he noticed Cindy stopped struggling. He rolled her over and saw a brick under her head covered in blood. Koppersmith said that even though Cindy landed near a flowerbed he did not know there were bricks in the yard. Koppersmith was charged with murder and convicted of reckless manslaughter. On appeal The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the conviction and sent the case back to the trial court because Koppersmith was denied the right to testify about his intentions. He went to retrial and was convicted of reckless manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He appealed this conviction to the Alabama Court of Appeals on the grounds that the jury was not given instructions on criminally negligent homicide. Issue:

* Is there error in the court denying a jury instructions on criminally negligent homicide, instead instructing on reckless manslaughter, which alleges the defendant had intent to kill, when there is enough evidence to support the theory the defendant’s conduct was unintentional. * The court establishing the difference between criminally negligent homicide and recklessness manslaughter. Court: Court of Criminal Appeals...
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