D lived with his girlfriend Tyree and his six-year-old son. One day, Tyree pushed the child into the bathtub causing microscopic tears in his intestines.
The next morning, D went into the child's room and beat him severely. Later that day, the child's abdomen became swollen.
Tyree urged D to take the child to the hospital. D refused at first. Later, they took him to the hospital. En route, the child died.
Tyree and D were both charged with manslaughter.
At trial, one medical expert for the prosecution said that he could not tell which of the injuries caused the death. The other expert said that the first injury caused the death. Neither could conclusively say anything about acceleration of death.
An expert for Tyree testified that acceleration of death probably happened in this case.
Prosecution's only theory of causation was acceleration.
Trial court found D guilty of manslaughter.
DE Supreme Court reversed, found D guilty of lesser included charge of assault in the second degree.
Did the beating inflicted by D accelerate the death of the child?
From the evidence in the case, the prosecution failed to prove that the beating inflicted by D accelerated the death of the child and, therefore, was an actual cause of death.
The state was required to show that the D's conduct hastened or accelerated the child's death.
It is possible to make the victim's pain more intense without accelerating the death.
A finding of medical causation may not be based on speculation or conjecture. A doctor's testimony that a certain thing is possible is no evidence at all.
When the prosecution used Tyree's witness to prove its acceleration theory, it was too later to state a prima facie case for the prosecution (it was on rebuttal).