Criminal Law Keyed to Lee
Commonwealth v. Pestinikas
Defendants Helen and Walter Pestinikas were charged with the murder of Joseph Kly. Kly had been hospitalized and diagnosed with a disease, which made it difficult to swallow food. Kly contacted the defendants about the prearrangement of his funeral proceedings. After Kly was discharged from the hospital the defendants were given care instructions and told they were to fill a prescription for Kly. The defendants and Kly made arrangements for the defendants to care for Kly in their home, however instead placing him in their home, they placed him in small, distant building, with no bathroom and no protection from exposure to weather conditions. The defendants proceeded to take Kly down to his bank and have their names added to his bank account. As time went on, the defendants removed over $30,000. Eventually, Kly was found dead in the home due to starvation and severe dehydration, about two years after his initial discharge from the hospital. At trial, the jury was instructed that the only way the defendants could be convicted of murder was if there was a special duty imposed under the contract between the parties. The statute at issue states that an omission can only support a criminal conviction if the omission is defined in the criminal statute or “otherwise imposed by law.”
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