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March 6, 2015

Murder Conviction For Accidental Death In Crystal Meth Explosion Upheld

By Michael H. Joseph

While Crystal Meh has been recognized as an extremely dangerous drug, usually deaths associated with Crystal Meth come in the form of overdoses or violence over sales territory. An unusual death occurred in People v. Peters, recently where a meth lab explosion occurred while the defendants were cooking meth. The interesting part of this recent case is that the individual who died was one of the people cooking the meth and the defendant was his partner.

The Defendant was charged with and convicted of manslaughter in the second degree and unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree. Under New York Penal Law §125.15 [1], a person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when they recklessly causes the death of another person. In Peters, the main issue was whether the defendants’ actions were reckless. The evidence of recklessness focused on the facts that the defendant after using meth, had placed plastic pitchers of lantern fuel on top of a grate on a stove’s surface, which ultimately ignited and caused an explosion. The Court found that recklessness was established because lantern fuel is highly flammable, the defendant had previously caused a fire while manufacturing methamphetamine and using plastic pitchers would “obviously melt” if placed on a hotplate. This evidence was found to be legally sufficient to support defendant’s conviction of manslaughter in the second degree.

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