Commonwealth v. DunpheAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant's conviction of murder in the first degree on the theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty, holding that there was a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice arising from the application of the model jury instructions regarding criminal responsibility to the particular facts of this case.
On issue at trial was whether the Commonwealth had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant was criminally responsible for the killing of a patient at the psychiatric ward of the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, where Defendant was also a patient. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the convictions, holding that, in view of the substantial evidence that Defendant had a mental disease or defect and that he lacked substantial capacity at the time of the killing, there was a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice arising from the risk of the jury's having misunderstood the model jury instructions. The Court also provisionally revised its model jury instructions regarding criminal responsibility to address what it concluded as a problematic risk of confusion.