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Kuntz v. Thirteenth Judicial District Court

Supreme Court of Montana
95 P.2d 951 (2000)


Facts

Bonnie Kuntz (defendant) and Warren Becker lived together for six years. Kuntz returned home one day to find her personal belongings destroyed, the phone torn from the wall, and the interior of the home in severe disarray. According to Kuntz, she went into the kitchen, and Becker attacked her by shaking her and throwing her into the stove. Kuntz claimed that she then went outside to calm down. When Kuntz reentered the house, she discovered a trail of blood leading to the front porch, where Becker had collapsed and was unresponsive. Kuntz drove to a friend’s house and called her mother. Kuntz did not call the authorities to seek help for Becker, but a neighbor of Kuntz’s mother eventually reported the incident. Kuntz returned to the home and waited for the police and medics to arrive. Becker had been stabbed and died from his injuries. Kuntz was initially charged with negligent homicide for stabbing Becker, and she pled not guilty on the ground of justifiable use of force. The state later filed an amended charge for negligent homicide for stabbing Becker and failing to seek medical assistance for him. Kuntz sought dismissal of the amended charge or, alternatively, to have the allegation of failure to seek medical attention struck from the charge. The district court denied Kuntz’s motion. Both Kuntz and the state filed for an advisory opinion from the Montana Supreme Court on the issue, among others, of whether a person who justifiably used force was legally obligated to obtain aid for a wounded attacker.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Nelson, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence/Dissent (Trieweiler, J.)

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