People v. Nibbe, 2016 IL App (4th) 140363 (February). Episode 151 (Duration: 2:35)
Second degree murder conviction is vacated because a blow with a bare hand is not ordinarily contemplated to cause death.
Defendant punched the victim in the face.
About a week later the victim died. Defendant appeared to be a drunk hot-head. The victim had bruising above the left eye, a fracture in his upper jaw, nasal bone, and cheek bone. He also had a skull fracture from the left skull base going over the top of his ear.
Additionally, the victim had a significant brain injury with hemorrhaging in both the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain caused from falling backward and hitting the back of his head.
It was the fall backward onto a surface that caused the death.
Is It Murder?
A person is guilty of first degree murder under a knowing murder theory if he killed another without lawful justification with the knowledge his acts created “a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.” 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2).
“Strong probability” is the situation which lies between the “practical certainty” and the “likely cause” and “substantial and unjustifiable risk” of involuntary manslaughter.
Here, the State's evidence failed to prove he knew his single punch to the victim's face created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.
“There is a long-standing principle in Illinois that death is not ordinarily contemplated as a natural consequence of blows from bare fists.” However, Illinois courts have recognized exceptions to the principle that death is not ordinarily contemplated as a natural consequence of blows from bare fists.
In this case, none of those exceptions were applicable and the principle that death is not ordinarily contemplated as a natural consequence of blows from bare fists prevailed. The court concluded that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove defendant struck the victim with the knowledge the punch created “a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.” 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2).