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State v. Yarborough

New Mexico Supreme Court
930 P.2d 131 (1996)


Facts

Kenneth Yarborough (defendant) was driving on an interstate highway when he came to a multiple-car accident. Yarborough did not see the accident until he was nearly upon it and made the decision not to apply his brakes. He drove into the back of a parked station wagon, killing a four-year-old boy. Alcohol was found in Yarborough’s van. Witnesses at the scene observed that Yarborough seemed intoxicated, and he subsequently failed a sobriety test. Yarborough was prosecuted for the child’s death. At trial, the jury was provided an instruction on voluntary manslaughter with the underlying misdemeanor offense of careless driving. The jury was instructed that it could convict Yarborough if there was evidence that he violated the careless-driving statute and, by doing so, killed the child. Yarborough objected to the instruction, arguing that it would allow a conviction of manslaughter on the basis of ordinary rather than criminal negligence. Yarborough was convicted, and he appealed. The appeals court held that the trial court committed error in allowing the jury instruction and reversed Yarborough’s conviction. The state (plaintiff) appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ransom, J.)

Dissent (Baca, C.J.)

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