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State v. Castagna

Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey
870 A.2d 653 (2005)


In October 1999, Bennett Grant went to a bar. Thomas D’Amico (defendant) and Josephine Castagna (defendant) arrived at the bar with a group of friends, including Violet Arias. These individuals knew each other from high school and the neighborhood. At some point in the night, Grant violently attacked both Arias and Castagna. Jean Morales (defendant) arrived at the bar during the attack. A crowd surrounded Grant. Grant attempted to run away toward a nearby bridge. The crowd, which had turned into a frenzied mob, chased Grant, yelling to “kill him.” The mob knocked Grant down and viciously beat him as he lay on the ground. During the assault, Morales hit and kicked Grant numerous times. Castagna beat Grant with a long object. As Grant lay on the ground, a man approached and dropped a heavy block on Grant’s head, killing him. The State of New Jersey (plaintiff) tried D’Amico, Castagna, and Morales for murder. While charging the jury, the trial judge stated that passion/provocation manslaughter was not implicated in the case. The defendants appealed, contending that the trial judge’s failure to charge the jury on passion/provocation manslaughter constituted reversible error in light of the friendships among the defendants and Arias.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Fuentes, J.)

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