15.2503A. Voluntary Manslaughter – Murder in Issue

1. As my earlier definition of malice indicates, there can be no malice when certain reducing circumstances are present. When these circumstances are present, a killing may be voluntary manslaughter, but never murder. This is true when a defendant kills [in heat of passion following serious provocation] [[[[or] [kills under an unreasonable mistaken belief in justifying circumstances].
2. Accordingly, you can find malice and murder only if you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting [under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by [the victim] [another person whom the defendant was trying to kill when [he] [she] negligently or accidentally killed the victim]] [or] [under an unreasonable belief that the circumstances were such that, if they existed, would have justified the killing].
[Heat of Passion: to be given only if the facts of record support:]
[3. A defendant acts under an “intense passion” if he or she acts under an emotion such as anger, rage, sudden resentment, or terror that is so strong that it renders him or her incapable of cool reflection. A defendant acts under a “sudden” passion if the time between the provocation and the killing is not long enough for the passion of a reasonable person to cool. A defendant’s passion results from “serious provocation” if it results from conduct or events that are sufficient to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person. Thus, the existence of “intense passion” turns on the actual mental and emotional state of the defendant, while the existence of “sudden passion” and “serious provocation” turn on how a reasonable person confronted by the same provocation would react. Remember, you can find malice and murder only if you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation [by the victim] [by another person whom the defendant was trying to kill when [he] [she] negligently or accidentally killed the victim].]
[4. The law recognizes that the cumulative impact of a series of related events can lead to sudden passion and amount to serious provocation. The test is whether a reasonable person, confronted with the same series of events, would become so impassioned that he or she would be incapable of cool reflection.]
[Unreasonable Belief Self-Defense: to be given only if the facts of record support:]
[5. The reducing circumstance of a defendant acting under an unreasonable belief that the circumstances of the killing were justified applies where:
a. the defendant actually believed that [he] [she] [a third party] was in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury [or kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat] from [name of alleged victim] at the time [he] [she] used deadly force, but [his] [her] belief was unreasonable in light of the facts as they appeared to [him] [her] at the time;
b. the defendant did not provoke the use of force by the alleged victim by engaging in conduct that showed it was [his] [her] intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to the alleged victim; and
c. the defendant did not violate [his] [her] duty to retreat from the place, surrender possession of something, or comply with a lawful demand, as I explained those terms when I described to you the justification defense.
Therefore, you can find malice and murder only if the Commonwealth proves beyond a reasonable doubt one of the following elements:
a. the defendant did not actually believe that [he] [she] [a third party] was in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury [or kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat] from [name of alleged victim] at the time [he] [she] used deadly force. Note that the unreasonableness of the defendant’s belief is not the issue here, as it was when I explained justification to you. The question is whether the defendant actually believed such an immediate danger existed at the time [he] [she] used deadly force, and to prove malice through this element, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant did not actually hold such a belief; or
b. the defendant provoked the use of force by the alleged victim by engaging in conduct that showed it was [his] [her] intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to the alleged victim; or
c. the defendant could have avoided the use of deadly force by [retreating from the place] [surrendering possession of something] [or] [complying with a lawful demand], as I previously defined [this] [those] concept[s] for you when I discussed the defense of justification.]
[To be given if either Heat of Passion or Unreasonable Belief charge is given:]
[6. If you do not find the defendant had malice and committed murder, you may find [him] [her] guilty of voluntary manslaughter as long as you are satisfied that the following three elements have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that [name of victim] is dead;
Second, that the defendant killed [him] [her]; and
Third, that the defendant had the intent to kill.]