In this Memphis case a jury convicted Larry Ward in the negligent homicide of his wife. The issue at trial was homicide vs. suicide. The state indicted on first degree murder and the jury returned a verdict on the lesser included charge of negligent homicide.
The proof showed that the victim died as a result of a close contact gunshot wound to the head. However, the evidence presented could not establish that the victim died as a result of a homicide as opposed to suicide. The state--says the court-- simply failed to put forth sufficient evidence that any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of criminally negligent homicide beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence in this case is inconclusive. The court went further to say, that even if the evidence at trial was sufficient to prove homicide, rather than suicide, the evidence was not sufficient to establish the defendant as being the person responsible for the victim’s death. The court concluded that the evidence was insufficient to convict the defendant of criminally negligent homicide.
The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court, vacated the conviction, and dismissed the charge against Larry Ward.