Lesser Included Instructions Not Given – Reversal

20 02 2014

In Shaun Washington v. State, the Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial because the trial court did not give an applicable lesser included instruction.  Washington was accused of battery in the first degree for causing injury to his infant’s head.  The doctors for the State testified that the injuries were caused by abusive head trauma.  The doctors for the defense, along with the defendant, testified that the injuries were from the defendant accidentally dropping the infant.  The jury convicted the defendant of battery in the first degree for purposefully causing serious physical injury.  The trial court refused to offer the jury the possibility of choosing battery in the third degree, which requires proof of recklessly causing injury.  The Court of Appeals found that a reasonable juror could have believed the defendant acted recklessly in dropping the infant; thus, the Court of Appeals found error in not instructing the jury on battery in the third degree.


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