State v. Fabritz

276 Md. 416, 348 A.2d 275 (1975)

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State v. Fabritz

Maryland Court of Appeals
276 Md. 416, 348 A.2d 275 (1975)

Facts

Virginia Fabritz (defendant) left her three-and-a-half-year-old child, Windy, in the custody of Thomas and Ann Crockett. When Fabritz returned two days later, Windy was lethargic, had cramps and a fever, and was covered with bruises. Fabritz put Windy to bed. Windy woke up a few hours later and seemed to briefly recover but then vomited and said she did not feel well. Fabritz did not take Windy to the hospital, because she was ashamed of Windy’s bruises. Windy’s condition worsened, and Ann took Windy to the hospital at around 9:45 p.m. Windy died on the way to the hospital. The state (plaintiff) charged Fabritz with child abuse, defined as any physical injury that a child sustained as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment or a malicious act. The following evidence was established at trial: Windy had been badly beaten while in the custody of the Crocketts and suffered greatly before dying of her injuries; Fabritz did not beat Windy and had not known that Ann or Thomas would abuse Windy; Windy would have survived if she had undergone surgery 12 hours before her death; and she might have survived if she’d had surgery an hour before death. The state argued that Fabritz’s failure to provide medical treatment for Windy constituted abuse because Fabritz had an affirmative duty to provide Windy’s reasonable medical necessaries, and failure to do so was cruel or inhumane treatment and contributed to Windy’s injuries, resulting in her death. The jury found that Fabritz was guilty of child abuse for failure to provide medical treatment for Windy, and the court sentenced Fabritz to five years’ imprisonment. Fabritz appealed, arguing that the beating, not the failure to provide medical treatment, caused Windy’s death. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed, holding that the failure to provide medical treatment for Windy’s injuries was an insufficient basis to hold Fabritz guilty of child abuse. The Maryland Court of Appeals granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, C.J.)

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