Jurors reject second-degree murder charge; instead convict man of manslaughter in death after cookout

A man charged with second-degree murder is the death of a party host was convicted of a lesser charge this month.  Jurors instead chose to find the defendant guilty of manslaughter for hitting a man with a baseball bat during an argument, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The victim had asked the defendant to leave his house as a party was winding down, but the man instead grabbed a bat and swung it at him, the newspaper reported. The man died from his injuries a day after the incident, the newspaper reported.

The jury’s decision for manslaughter instead of second-degree murder is very significant for the potential sentence in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case. While both charges are first-degree felonies, the sentencing requirements are very different. If the defendant in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes case was convicted of second-degree murder, he could be sentenced to up to life in prison. However, because the charge was reduced to manslaughter with a weapon, the maximum charge is now 30 years in prison. The defendant in this case, 36, is young enough that he could expect to be released from prison even if he is given the maximum sentence by the judge.

There are varying degrees of manslaughter, and this was among the more serious charges the jury could have chosen. The baseball bat, in this case, was deemed to be a weapon by the jurors, which made the charge a first-degree felony and the maximum penalty 30 years in state prison. In many other Jacksonville Manslaughter Cases, the charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. This type of charge is used, for example, when people are in a fistfight and a punch or a person hitting their head on the concrete results in a death. While this Jacksonville Manslaughter Case was also a fight, the bat was used in the fatal blow that led to the man’s death, which made the case a first-degree felony.

This decision by the jurors shows the importance of the balance in our criminal justice system. While the defendant was still found guilty in the man’s death, his punishment can now be much different because of the findings of the jury. He will be sentenced this fall.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will fully investigate any criminal charges against you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.