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State v. Govan

Arizona Court of Appeals
744 P.2d 712 (1987)



Joe Govan (defendant) moved into a home with Sharon Keeble and her teenage daughter. Govan and Keeble had a tumultuous relationship and regularly argued. At one point, Keeble accused Govan of molesting her daughter and fired a handgun at Govan. After Keeble missed, Govan left and returned with another handgun. Keeble was attempting to call the police when Govan shot her in the neck, paralyzing her from the neck down. Govan insisted that he did not intend to shoot Keeble. During her hospitalization, Govan and Keeble reconciled and eventually married. Five years later, Keeble contracted pneumonia while still paralyzed, but did not seek medical treatment for two weeks despite knowing that she was ill. Keeble had been suffering from extreme pain due to the quadriplegia and eventually died from pneumonia. Govan was indicted for second-degree murder. At trial, two physicians testified that Keeble’s death was caused by pneumonia stemming from the quadriplegia, which was in turn caused by the gunshot wound fired by Govan. Govan was convicted of the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. Govan filed a motion for judgment of acquittal, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to show that his gunshot caused Keeble’s paralysis and subsequent death. The trial court denied Govan’s motion. Govan appealed, arguing that Keeble broke the chain of causation by giving up her will to live.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Greer, J.)

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