Smith v. Commonwealth (P)

The court of appeals properly found that evidence was sufficient to uphold a conviction of voluntary manslaughter.

Neither the defendant nor the Commonwealth asked the trial court to instruct the jury that words alone are never sufficient provocation to reduce murder to manslaughter, even though this principle is well established. The defendant expressly agreed to instructions that omitted the very legal principle on which she seeks to rely on appeal. An agreed jury instruction becomes the law of the case, even if it imposes “an inappropriate standard.” Thus, the defendant waived challenges to the wording of the voluntary manslaughter instruction.

In addition to the defendant’s familiarity with firearms and how to see whether a weapon is loaded, evidence was that the defendant aimed at the window near where the victim was standing, that the two had been arguing, and that the defendant went downstairs, got her gun, and came back upstairs and shot the victim. The jury could have inferred that she was angry with the victim and shot shot him in a heat of passion produced by the argument. Under these circumstances, this court cannot say that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict.

Affirmed. Three justices concurred.

Smith v. Commonwealth (P), No. 180198, Dec. 13, 2018. SCV (Lemons) from CAV.

Categories: Opinions, Published, Supreme Court of Virginia

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