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Cook v. State
Maryland Court of Special Appeals
702 A.2d 971 (1997)
Robert Cook (defendant) was in a relationship with Kathryn Burns. One evening, Burns was late in returning home to the apartment she shared with Cook. Both Cook and Burns were drunk and began arguing in their bedroom. Cook retrieved a gun and eventually shot the gun toward a pillow on the bed. The bullet hit Burns and killed her. Cook was charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime. The trial court’s instructions for second-degree depraved-heart murder explained that there must be proof that the defendant’s conduct created a very high degree of risk to the victim’s life and that the defendant, although conscious of the risk, acted with extreme disregard of the consequences. The instructions for involuntary manslaughter stated that there must be proof that the defendant, although conscious of the risk, acted in a grossly negligent manner and created a high degree of risk to human life. Cook was convicted as charged. Cook appealed, arguing that the jury instructions failed to adequately distinguish between depraved-heart murder and involuntary manslaughter by failing to advise that depraved-heart murder required a finding of malice.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, J.)
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