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Mayes v. People

Illinois Supreme Court
106 Ill. 306 (1883)



Mayes (defendant) returned home from a nearby bar. Intoxicated, he acted belligerently toward his wife, daughter and mother-in-law. When Mayes threw a tin quart measure at the daughter, his wife, carrying a lit oil lamp, instructed and led the daughter to the bedroom. Mayes then threw a large beer mug at his wife, hitting and smashing the oil lamp, causing burning oil to ignite her clothes. Mayes did not attempt to put out the fire, and his wife died later that week from the burns inflicted. Mayes was charged with murder. At trial, Mayes asserted that he did not intend to hit his wife with the glass, but rather that he was attempting to throw it outside through an open door. His testimony was contradicted by both the daughter and mother-in-law. Mayes requested that the jury be instructed that to convict for murder, it must find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mayes acted with the intent to inflict bodily injury on his wife when he threw the mug. The court gave the jury an amended version, essentially instructing the jury that it could convict if it found that Mayes acted with an abandoned and malignant heart. Mayes was convicted of murder and appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court of Illinois.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scholfield, J.)

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