The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reported that on October 2, 2008 Raul Rodriguez pleaded guilty to manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm. The conviction stemmed from an incident two years ago during which Rodriguez was playing with a 9 millimeter handgun after a night of heavy drinking. After trying to clear the weapon and believing that the chamber was empty, Rodriguez pointed the gun at the head of Rafael Ortiz and fired. The gun discharged and a bullet struck Ortiz in the head killing him. Rodriguez did not know that his efforts at clearing the weapon were unsuccessful and that he had in fact caused a live round to enter the chamber. Rodriguez was initially charged with murder. According to reports, upon initial inquiry Rodriguez was found crying and told the police “I know you guys are going to arrest me,…My buddy’s shot, and it was over drugs.” No gun was found at the scene. The judge sentenced the defendant to 2 1/2 years to 3 1/2 years in state prison. The prosecutor asked for a more severe sentence of 6 to 8 years. Defense counsel tried to convince the judge to impose a house of correction sentence. Rodriguez was given a stay of execution of his sentence so that he could wrap up his auto repair business. Read entire article, Lawrence Eagle Tribune, October 3, 2008.
Manslaughter in Massachusetts is a crime punishable for up to 20 years in state prison. Manslaughter is proscribed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13. There are two types of manslaughter in Massachusetts, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Both come with several nuances and both require an absence of malice. Voluntary manslaughter can arise 1) from heat of passion upon a reasonable provocation, 2) as a result of the heat of passion induced by sudden combat or 3) as a result of the excessive use of force in self defense or in defense of another. Involuntary manslaughter can come about as a result of the wanton or reckless conduct. Wanton or reckless conduct contemplates acts that create a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to another. Often times involuntary manslaughter is referred to as criminal negligence or gross criminal negligence. It is in essence a blatant disregard for the dangers of a particular situation. It is likely that Rodriguez was charged with involuntary manslaughter under this theory.
Our office defends people accused of committing violent crimes such as manslaughter. Manslaughter is a serious crime that is not often charged. Typically, murder is charged and manslaughter becomes an lesser option for the jury to consider. Rodriguez was fortunate enough to be represented by an excellent criminal defense lawyer who succeeded in convincing the judge to impose a rather lenient sentence given the nature of the crime. Hiring the right Massachusetts criminal defense attorney is a critical decision. Please explore our website for a listing of our services and our experience.