People v. Thomas – Case Brief
People v. Thomas, 729 P.2d 972 (1986).
Facts: On February 4, 1981 Thomas (D) received a telephone call from a friend who told him that she had just been raped by a neighbor who lived upstairs. Thomas arrived at his friend’s apartment with a pistol and went upstairs to confront the neighbor. Thomas falsely identified himself as a police officer and instructed his friend to call the police. The neighbor began to flee and Thomas fired three shots at him, two of which struck the alleged rapist. Thomas claimed that two shots were warning shots and that the other shot was accidental.
Thomas was convicted of first degree assault and attempted reckless manslaughter. The court of appeals reversed the conviction of attempted reckless manslaughter and the Colorado Supreme Court granted cert.
Issue: Is attempted reckless manslaughter a cognizable offense?
Holding and Rule (Lohr): Yes. Attempted reckless manslaughter is a cognizable offense.
For reckless manslaughter, the defendant must have a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that relates to the death of another person. The court of appeals held that recklessness cannot be an intentional act and that therefore the crime of attempted recklessness is not recognized by this state. We disagree. An attempt occurs when someone acts with the required mental state or mens rea that is required for the crime itself. Here, what is required is a state of mind that is reckless. The defendant consciously engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death to another. The defendant therefore had the required mens rea for recklessness and should be convicted of attempted reckless manslaughter.
Concurring (Dubofsky): I join the majority under the facts of this case, but the reasoning should be limited to the facts of this case and should not be extended to attempted reckless conduct. The majority’s definition of attempted recklessness is too broad.