Midgett v. State
Supreme Court of AR - 1987
- D had abused his 8-year-old son over a significant period of time. One night, D hit his son 4 times, twice on the back and twice in the stomach.
- Days later, D found his son dead. The autopsy showed that the child was very malnourished and had recent as well as old bruises and broken bones.
- The death resulted from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma from a fist.
- Trial court found D guilty of first-degree murder.
- AR Supreme Court modified and affirmed, found D guilty of second-degree murder.
- What is required for a person to be convicted of first-degree murder?
- In order to be convicted of first-degree murder, substantial evidence must be shown to prove that the killing was premeditated and deliberate.
- There are two ways to interpret D's intent.
- D only intended to further abuse his son.
- D intended to kill his son, but his decision was made in a drunken rage while disciplining the child.
- Neither supports a finding of premeditation or deliberation.
- There is sufficient evidence for a second-degree murder charge since D caused his son's death by delivering a blow with the purpose of causing serious physical injury.
- This is a jury matter; D starved, beat, and choked his son.
- There was sufficient evidence for first-degree murder.
- Several states have created statutes allowing child abusers to be found guilty of first-degree murder even without premeditation and deliberation (including AR).