People v. Beardsley
Michigan Supreme Court
113 N.W. 1128 (1907)
Respondent Beardsley (defendant) was a married man who arranged to meet with an acquaintance, Blanche Burns, at his apartment while his wife was away. Beardsley and Burns had known each other for a while and had spent the night together on two prior occasions. Burns arrived at his home on Saturday, March 18, 1905, and they began drinking. Burns stayed there continuously until the following Monday. Unknown to Beardsley, Burns asked a coworker of Beardsley’s to purchase morphine tablets for her. Beardsley later saw her consume a few tablets and attempted to knock them out of her hand. Burns went unconscious and Beardsley could not revive her. Beardsley took her to a neighbor and asked him to look after Burns until she awoke. That night, the neighbor became concerned about Burns’ condition and called the authorities. After an examination, Burns was proclaimed dead. At trial, the prosecutor (plaintiff) argued that Beardsley had a duty to care for Burns, that his failure to do so led to Burns’ death, and that he was therefore culpable. The trial court convicted Beardsley of manslaughter.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McAlvay, C.J.)
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