State v. Stewart
State v. Stewart (1988)
Supreme Court of Kansas, 763 P.2d 572
FACTS: D and her daughters are greatly abused by V. D is eventually sent to mental hospital but is released back to V telling people at the hospital she might kill him. He is abusive again and threatens her with death. V goes to sleep. D shoots and kills him in his sleep.
ISSUE: Self defense?
RULES: Self Defense:
1. Subjective standard to determine whether the defendant honestly and sincerely believed it necessary to kill in order to defend.
2. Objective standard to determine whether a reasonable person in defendant’s circumstances would have perceived self defense as necessary.
HOLDING/RULING: When a battered woman kills her sleeping spouse when there is no imminent danger, the killing is not reasonably necessary and a self defense instruction may not be given.
RATIONALE: To hold otherwise would in effect allow the execution of an abuser for past or future acts or conduct. Was not in imminent danger b/c V was asleep.
CLASS NOTES: Battered women’s syndrome is always relevant to the “honest belief” factor. Some courts give this more weight than others.