STATE v. PRANKCUS
Facts: Judd approached the defendant in an attempt to calm him. The defendant then punched Judd in the face. A brief fight ensured between Judd and the defendant during which a shelf with ceramic mugs fell on the floor and shattered. Doucette, Anderson and Potkaj attempted to break up the fight. Anderson and Potkaj grabbed Judd by his arms to restrain him while Doucette came up behind the defendant and wrapped his arms around him to stop the fight. The defendant broke free from Doucette and attacked Judd again. Judd freed himself from Potkaj and Anderson in response to the defendant’s attack and punched the defendant again. The defendant then picked up a kitchen knife with an eight inch blade from the counter and strode six feet from the counter toward Judd, swinging and stabbing with the knife. The defendant ultimately stabbed Judd and Potkaj twice a piece. Judd suffered a seven inch deep stab wound to the left side of his back. Potkaj received a seven and on-half inch deep wound to the right side of his chest and a superficial incision wound on the left side of his back around his shoulder blade. Everyone remaining at 69 House Street ran outside, but the defendant remained inside where he called the police. Both Potkaj and Judd collapsed on the ground from their injuries. Potkaj eventually died from the seven and one-half inch stab wound to the right side of his chest, and Judd died from the seven inch stab wound to the left side of his chest. The defendant was arrested on the scene and later treated for a laceration over his left eye and a broken left orbital bone. Procedural Issue: Defendant was convicted following a jury trial in the Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, of two counts of manslaughter in the 1st degree, and he appealed. The Appellate Court Affirmed. Substantive Issue: Did the drinking and smoking of marijuana play a role in the defendant behavior. As the aggressor could the defendant claim self-defense for the stabbing of the two men. Judgment: Affirmed
Holding: There was substantial evidence that the defendant was the first person to punch Judd in the face after yelling and swearing at the teens in the kitchen. That evidence was sufficient to permit the jury reasonably to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was the initial aggressor and, therefore, not entitled to claim self-defense. Rationale: Applying that standard, we determine that the jury reasonably could have concluded that the cumulative force of the evidence disproved the defendant’s justification defense of use of force in defense of a person beyond a reasonable doubt.
PEOPLE v. GOETZ
Facts: Defendant Bernhard Goetz boarded this subway train at 14th Street in Manhattan and sat down on a bench towards the rear section of the same car occupied by the four youths. Goetz was carrying an unlicensed .38 caliber pistol loaded with five rounds of ammunition in a waistband holster.
It appears from the evidence before the Grand Jury that Canty approached Goetz, possibly with Allen beside him, and stated, “Give me five dollars.” Neither Canty nor any of the other youths displayed a weapon. Goetz responded by standing up, pulling out his handgun and firing four shots in rapid succession. The first shot hit Canty in the chest; the second struck Allen in the back; the third went through Ramseur’s arm and into his left side; the fourth was fired at Cabey, who apparently was then standing in the corner of the car, but missed, deflecting instead off of a wall of the conductor’s cab. After Goetz briefly surveyed the scene around him, he fired another shot at Cabey, who then was sitting on the end bench of the car. The bullet entered the rear of Cabey’s side and severed his spinal cord.
While the conductor was aiding the youths, Goetz headed towards the front of the car. The train stopped just before the Chambers Street station and Goetz went between the two cars, jumped onto the tracks...
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