D became romantically involved with a neighbor. One day, she broke off the relationship with D. He went a little nuts.
D would break into the apartment below her and eavesdrop. One day, D broke into her apartment with gifts and a knife.
She rejected D's advances, so D stabbed her to death.
Trial court found D guilty of second-degree murder.
COA NY affirmed, D guilty of second-degree murder.
What kind of analysis is undertaken to determine whether emotional disturbance should mitigate a murder charge to manslaughter?
In determining whether emotional disturbance should mitigate a murder charge to manslaughter, a court should use…
A subjective test (whether D acted under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance)
And an objective test (whether there was a reasonable explanation or excuse for such extreme emotional disturbance, the reasonableness of which is to be determined from the viewpoint of a person in the D's situation under the circumstances as D believed them to be.)
This statute grew out of the heat of passion statute. However, it is much broader in scope than the heat of passion statute. There is no time period requirement.
The determination whether there was reasonable explanation or excuse for a particular emotional disturbance should be made by viewing the subjective internal situation in which the D found himself and the external circumstances as he perceived them at the time, however inaccurate that perception may have been, and assessing from that standpoint whether the explanation or excuse for his emotional disturbance was reasonable.
This statute allows jurors to excuse behavior that is an understandable weakness.
The murder in this case was the result of the D's malevolence rather than an understandable human response deserving mercy.
This test is only to determine whether the emotional disturbance is supported by a reasonable excuse.