Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
People v. Caruso
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Francesco Caruso (Defendant) was an Italian immigrant living in an apartment with his wife and children. According to Defendant’s testimony, on February 11, his six-year-old son became sick with a sore throat, which Defendant treated with drug-store medicine. His son’s condition worsened, and at 10 o’clock in the evening on February 12, Defendant called Dr. Pendola, who was recommended to him. Dr. Pendola arrived shortly afterward and diagnosed the child with diphtheria. The doctor sent Defendant out to buy some antitoxin, which the doctor administered. Dr. Pendola also gave Defendant another prescription, with instructions, and promised to return the next morning. Defendant watched his son all night, administering the medication. Throughout the night, the child’s sickness continued worsening. Defendant could not reach Dr. Pendola, and Defendant’s son died. Dr. Pendola arrived the next afternoon, at which time he was told the child died. Defendant testified that upon hearing the news, the doctor laughed. Defendant believed this, though it is likely the doctor’s facial muscles twitched in such a way that may have been mistaken for a smile. The doctor’s reaction, coupled with Defendant’s apparent belief that the dose of antitoxin given to his son was too large and the doctor’s denial of the accusations, caused Defendant to attack the doctor in anger, choking him until he fell. Defendant then went to the closet about 10 feet away and retrieved a knife, which he used to stab the doctor twice in the throat, killing him. Defendant was arrested later that night. Defendant did not deny that he killed the doctor. The jury was given instructions on homicide, deliberation, and premeditation, which were the requirements for a conviction of first-degree murder. Defendant was convicted, and he appealed.
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