Section 1104 par A of Arizona Revised Statutes provides that “A person commits second degree murder if without premeditation:
1. The person intentionally causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of intentionally causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child; or 2. Knowing that the person's conduct will cause death or serious physical injury, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of knowingly causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child; or 3. Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, the person recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of recklessly causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child. Second degree murder is best defined as the middle ground between first degree murder and manslaughter.
In other words, it is the killing of another person that is committed without any premeditation nor committed without any circumstances as to mitigate the liability of the offender to manslaughter such as sudden quarrel or heat of passion (Findlaw. com, 2007). Unlike manslaughter, the offender in second degree murder has full control and possession of mental faculties, unclouded by any emotion that diminishes mental thought. On the other hand, it is different from first degree murder because there is no premeditation involved.
FIRST DEGREE MURDER Section 1105 par A of Arizona Revised Statutes provides that “A. A person commits first degree murder if:1. Intending or knowing that t he person's conduct will cause death, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child, with premeditation or, as a result of causing the death of another person with premeditation, causes the death of an unborn child. What sets first degree murder apart from the other classes of homicide is the element of premeditation. Premeditation presupposes the presence of forethought or the giving of consideration to a matter beforehand "for some length of time, however short” (Baron’s Law Dictionary, 2003).
Premeditation indicates a stubborn adherence to commit the murder. It requires a showing of a previous decision by the accused to commit the crime; overt acts manifestly indicating that the accused clung to his determination; and a lapse of time between the decision to commit the crime and its actual execution sufficient to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of his acts. This is the gravest form of homicide because it connotes adherence to a plan to kill someone and shows utter disregard for human life (Schmalleger, 2006).
In determining what crime to charge, it is important to look into the intention of Dr. Oldman. Based on the discussion of the classifications of homicide, it could be seen that intention is an essential element for both first and second degree murder, but not in negligent homicide and manslaughter. This is important because it establishes malice. According to the case of Regina vs. Cunningham, the meaning of malice is not just wickedness but the actual intention to inflict harm. It must be shown that the result was the conscious objective of his conduct (People vs. Conley).
In the case at bar, it may seem that Dr. Oldguy had no intention to kill Vicky. In fact, this was evident through his actions after the act of pushing Vicky. He even laughed at her when he saw her lying down on the floor and told her to get up. The fact that he got agitated when he saw her not moving proves that he did not intend to kill her. Even if Dr. Oldguy did not intend to kill her, he shall still be liable for her death. Subsection A of Section 13-203 of the Arizona Revised Statutes provides for the causal relationship between the conduct and the result.
The significance of this provision is that it makes people liable for the results of their conduct notwithstanding the absence of intent (Kibbe v. Henderson) . According to the said provision of law, a conduct is deemed the cause of the result provided that the two requisites are met. These are the following: 1. If it weren’t for the conduct, the result in question would not have occurred; and 2. The relationship between conduct and result satisfies any additional causal requirements imposed by the statute defining the offense. Applying this provision of law to the case at bar, even if Dr.
Oldguy had no intention to kill Vicky, he should be liable for her death. The main reason, and most logical, is the simple fact that if he had not pushed her, she would not have died. Notwithstanding the fact that his pushing her was the actual cause of Vicky’s death, and the fact that he intended to push Vicky, Dr. Oldman should not be charged with the crime of second degree murder. He should only be charged with manslaughter. Aside from the reasons given above, the important circumstance that is attendant in the case is the fact that the act of pushing came from a sudden quarrel and from the heat of passion.
Although Dr. Oldguy voluntarily pushed Vicky which eventually lead to the loss of her life, the act of pushing came out of his anger when Vicky suddenly pushed him. Prior to that, Dr. Oldguy had no intention whatsoever to push her. In fact, he was on his way out of the door when Vicky pushed him. Furthermore, it also came out from a heat of passion because during the whole episode that he was in her apartment, the two were constantly fighting. The push from Vicky could have acted as a trigger for a very eventful morning.