A jury convicted Edwin Paul Frinks on a lesser charge of attempted manslaughter. Frinks was charged by prosecutors for attempted second-degree murder. Like all homicide cases, attempted homicide cases can be broken down into various degrees. That includes attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and attempted manslaughter.
In this case, Frinks was being accused of attempted second-degree murder. Frinks stopped at St. Landry’s Parish to report that he might have been involved in a crime. At the same time, the victim, Travis Darnell James, was found on I-49 attempting to flag down passersby. He had been stabbed and suffered brush burns from the road.
Frinks said that he and James had been in a fight and he stabbed James, who was his passenger. Frinks offered to take the man to the hospital, but instead, James jumped out of the car.
Second-Degree Murder vs. Manslaughter
While laws may differ from state to state, Florida laws, when it comes to second-degree murder are not much different than any other state’s. In order to be convicted of second-degree murder, the prosecution must be able to prove “malice aforethought”.
Malice aforethought presumes that the individual charged with the crime intended to act maliciously toward another person. In the case of an attempted homicide, that would include the intent to murder. It does not, on the other hand, need to be premeditated. Malice aforethought simply means that the defendant had a malicious agenda.
When malice aforethought cannot be proven, the next crime down the list is, in this case, attempted voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is colloquially known as a “heat of passion” crime. In other words, the defendant was provoked in some way to lash out at the victim. These are crimes of passion and crimes of rage. The defense must assert that the defendant was provoked and this provocation caused them to lash out at the victim.
In this case, the defendant must not have had sufficient time to quell their emotional outrage.
The Verdict Comes back Guilty of Attempted Manslaughter
There are a number of points worth considering in this case that made the manslaughter verdict more likely than second-degree murder. Firstly, the defendant stabbed the victim in his own car, which is not a plot worthy of an evil genius. Afterward, the defendant turned himself into police.
These are all factors that helped the defendant reduce the charge from attempted second-degree murder to attempted manslaughter. If you believe that the defendant also offered to take the victim to the hospital, then that factors in as well.
Regardless, the prosecution in a case such as this is tasked with the burden of proving malice aforethought beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury knew that something happened, that the victim was stabbed by the defendant, and that the defendant then turned himself in.
In other words, the evidence does not suggest malice aforethought. Hence why the defendant’s charges were reduced.
Charged with a Crime?
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