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CASE SUMMARY|People v. Palumbo, 555 P.2d 521 (Colo. 1976)

People v. Palumbo supports the argument that a person can be convicted of negligent homicide even if they never meant to kill the person that died.

What are the facts of People v. Palumbo?

The defendant was driving down the road.  The victim was walking in the road and obstructing traffic.  The defendant stopped his car and began arguing with the victim.  The argument turned physical and the defendant punched the victim.  The victim fell to the ground, hit his head, and died.  The defendant was charged with manslaughter.  He was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Can you be convicted of criminally negligent homicide if you didn’t mean to kill the person who died?

At trial, the defendant argued he wasn’t guilty because he never meant to cause the death of the victim when he punched him.  The trial court prevented the defendant from using that argument as a defense.  He appealed and asked the Supreme Court to reverse his conviction and give him a new trial so he could argue his lack of intent to the jury.  The Colorado Supreme Court sided with the trial court and said, that the defendant could not “avoid his conviction on the ground that he did not intend death to result from his act.”

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