Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Langlois

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District II

June 28, 2017

State of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Joseph T. Langlois, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL from judgments and orders of the circuit court for Washington County, Cir. Ct. No. 2014CF43 JAMES K. MUEHLBAUER, Judge. Affirmed.

          Before Neubauer, C.J., Reilly, P.J., and Hagedorn, J.

          NEUBAUER, C.J.

         ¶1 Joseph T. Langlois appeals from a judgment and an amended judgment of conviction entered after a jury found him guilty of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. He further appeals from two orders denying his motions for postconviction relief. Langlois contends that there were errors in the court's instructions to the jury on the defenses of accident and self-defense, which counsel let pass without objection, resulting in Langlois being denied the effective assistance of counsel. We disagree. The court properly instructed the jury that the State had the burden of disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The accident and homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon instructions correctly advised the jury that they had to find that Langlois's conduct created an unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm. Langlois also contends that the evidence presented was legally insufficient to support a conviction for homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. Again, we disagree. Thus, we affirm the judgments and orders.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Langlois was charged in the stabbing death of his brother, Jacob Langlois, with first-degree reckless homicide. As explained in greater detail below, Langlois stabbed Jacob following an argument and physical altercation over items that Jacob had taken from Langlois.

         Jury Instructions Applicable to the Homicide by Negligent Handling of a Dangerous Weapon Conviction

         ¶3 At trial, after the conclusion of the presentation of evidence, the State requested that Langlois be charged with the lesser-included offenses of second-degree reckless homicide and homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. Langlois, in turn, requested instructions on the defenses of self-defense and accident. The State then requested an instruction on retreat. The circuit court granted the requests. Defense counsel did not object to the court's instructions, stating "I'm good with all of it." After the instructions were read to the jury, they were given a copy for use in deliberations. The relevant instructions were as follows:

Self-defense is an issue in this case. In deciding whether the defendant's conduct was criminally reckless conduct which showed utter disregard for human life or was criminally reckless conduct or was criminally negligent conduct, you should also consider whether the defendant acted lawfully in self-defense.
The law of self-defense allows the defendant to threaten or intentionally use force against another only if:
• the defendant believed that there was an actual or imminent unlawful interference with the defendant's person; and
• the defendant believed that the amount of force the defendant used or threatened to use was necessary to prevent or terminate the interference; and
• the defendant's beliefs were reasonable.
The defendant may intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if the defendant reasonably believed that the force used was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

         ¶4 The court then instructed the jury on retreat and the elements of first-degree reckless homicide. The court then returned to the self-defense standard and explained the State's burden of proof:

You should consider the evidence relating to self-defense in deciding whether the defendant's conduct created an unreasonable risk to another. If the defendant was acting lawfully in self-defense, his conduct did not create an unreasonable risk to another.[1] The burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act lawfully in self-defense. And, you must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt from all the evidence in the case that the risk was unreasonable.

         ¶5 Next, the court instructed the jury as to the accident defense in conjunction with the first-degree reckless homicide charge.

         ¶6 The court then repeated that it was the State's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act lawfully in self defense.

         ¶7 At the end of the instruction on first-degree reckless homicide, the court told the jury that if they could not unanimously agree on a verdict as to that count, then it should consider whether Langlois was guilty of second-degree reckless homicide. The court instructed the jury on the elements of second-degree reckless homicide, but the court did not reinstruct them on the defenses of self-defense or accident.

         ¶8 If the jury could not unanimously agree on a verdict as to second-degree reckless homicide, then, the court told the jury, they should consider the count of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon. The court then gave the following instruction on that count:

Self-defense is an issue in this case that also applies to the charge of Homicide by Negligent Handling of a Dangerous Weapon. In deciding whether the defendant's conduct was criminally negligent conduct, you should also consider whether the defendant acted lawfully in self-defense.
As I previously indicated, the law of self-defense allows the defendant to threaten or intentionally use force against another only if:
• the defendant believed that there was an actual or imminent unlawful interference with the defendant's person; and
• the defendant believed that the amount of force the defendant used or threatened to use was necessary to prevent or terminate the interference; and
• the defendant's beliefs were reasonable.
The defendant may intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if the defendant reasonably believed that the force used was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

         ¶9 The court did not reinstruct the jury that the State had the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Langlois did not act lawfully in self-defense.

         ¶10 On the elements of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, the court told the jury the following:

Before you may find the defendant guilty of this offense, the State must prove by evidence which satisfies you beyond a reasonable doubt that the following three elements were present.
1. The defendant operated or handled a dangerous weapon.
2. The defendant operated or handled a dangerous weapon in a manner constituting criminal negligence.
3. The defendant's operation or handling of a dangerous weapon in a manner constituting criminal negligence caused the death of Jacob Langlois.
"Cause" means that the defendant's act was a substantial factor in producing the death.
Once again, "dangerous weapon" means any device or instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is likely to produce death or great bodily harm. "Great bodily harm" means serious bodily injury.
"Criminal negligence" means: the defendant's operation or handling of a dangerous weapon created a risk of death or great bodily harm; and the risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and the defendant should have been aware that his operation or handling of a dangerous weapon created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.

         ¶ 11 The court reinstructed the jury on the defense of accident.

The defendant contends that he was not aware of the risk of death or great bodily harm required for a crime, but rather ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.