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Dennis v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
105 Md. App. 687 (1995)


Facts

John Dennis (defendant) was married to Robin, and they had a 12-year-old son. In June, after Dennis and Robin began experiencing financial difficulties, Robin decided to leave. Robin moved in with Bantz and began having an affair. Dennis was upset at this news, partially because Dennis was aware that Bantz was involved in drugs. Dennis asked Robin to return home on several occasions and also threatened Bantz. However, by early August, Dennis began to accept the situation and focused on raising their son. Later in August, Robin told Dennis that the affair was over, and she was interested in coming home. Robin spent a couple of nights with Dennis but wasn’t sure if she was ready to come back. During that week, their son spent the night with Robin at Bantz’s home. The next day, Dennis learned that Bantz was also present and smoked cocaine in front of their son. Dennis then left his home and went to Bantz’s house with a handgun. When he got there, he saw Robin and Bantz together, hugging and partially undressed. Dennis believed they were about to have sex. Dennis kicked in the front door and shot Bantz nine times, killing him. The State of Maryland (plaintiff) charged Dennis with premeditated first-degree murder. After the trial, Dennis requested the trial court provide an instruction on manslaughter. The instruction provided that the provocation, based on the evidence in the trial, had to be based on the sudden discovery by Dennis of Robin in the act of sexual intercourse or having strong reason to believe that it recently took place. The jury convicted Dennis of premediated first-degree murder. Dennis appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilner, J.)

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