State v. AbellaAnnotate this Case
At issue was whether Defendant could be convicted of homicide if the victim's death was the immediate result of the victim's family's choice to withdraw medical care. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's conviction of manslaughter and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on causation and culpability pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. 702-215 and 207-216.
After Defendant severely beat the victim, the victim was comatose for more than a week. Twelve days later, the victim was removed from life support and declared dead. A jury found Defendant guilty of manslaughter. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Haw. Rev. Stat. 327E-13(b), a provision in the Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act, which prohibits designated as a homicide any "[d]eath resulting from the withholding or withdrawal of health care" under the Act, did not shield Defendant from conviction; and (2) the jury should have been given instructions on causation pursuant to sections 702-215 and 702-216, which would have enabled the jury to consider whether the intervening volitional conduct of the medical team and family interrupted the chain of causation between Defendant's actions and the victim's death such that it would be unjust to convict Defendant of homicide.