Commonwealth v. Acevedo
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
845 N.E.2d 274 (2006)
A high-school student threw a party at her house following a school dance. Charles McCullough attended the party. When German Acevedo (defendant) and Acevedo’s friends arrived at the party, McCullough accused the group of stealing his headlights, and an argument ensued. Acevedo and his friends left the party, but later returned, and a second argument ensued. Witnesses for the prosecution and the defense presented different versions of the subsequent events. According to prosecution witnesses, one of Acevedo’s friends punched McCullough, McCullough challenged Acevedo to a one-on-one fight outside, and only McCullough and Acevedo were involved in the physical fight. After McCullough hit Acevedo in the head, Acevedo stabbed McCullough five times in a manner that resulted in McCullough’s death. According to defense witnesses, Acevedo attempted to flee the party when the physical altercation began. Acevedo attempted to get into a friend’s car, but found it locked. After returning to the crowd gathered outside, Acevedo saw McCullough make a fist and run toward him. Acevedo was knocked to the ground and attempted to push multiple attackers away, but was unable to do so. Acevedo then pulled a knife and swung it at his attackers. The judge provided jury instructions on self-defense, involuntary manslaughter, and manslaughter based on the use of excessive force in self-defense. The jury was not instructed on manslaughter based on reasonable provocation. The jury requested further information regarding malice and any mitigating factors that could be considered. The judge responded that no mitigating circumstances should be considered, other than excessive use of force in self-defense. The jury convicted Acevedo of second-degree murder. Acevedo appealed his conviction and filed a motion for a new trial. The appellate court denied the motion and affirmed the conviction. Acevedo appealed on the ground that failure to instruct the jury on manslaughter based on reasonable provocation constituted reversible error.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Spina, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 174,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.