State v. Chaves, 246 N.C. App. 100 (Mar. 1, 2016)

The trial court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter. The trial judge instructed the jury on first- and second-degree murder but declined the defendant’s request for an instruction on voluntary manslaughter. The jury found the defendant guilty of second-degree murder. The defendant argued that the trial court should have given the requested instruction because the evidence supported a finding that he acted in the heat of passion based on adequate provocation. The defendant and the victim had been involved in a romantic relationship. The defendant argued that he acted in the heat of passion as a result of the victim’s verbal taunts and her insistence, shortly after they had sex, that he allow his cell phone to be used to text another man stating that the victim and the defendant were no longer in a relationship. The court rejected this argument, concluding that the victim’s words, conduct, or a combination of the two could not serve as legally adequate provocation. Citing a North Carolina Supreme Court case, the court noted that mere words, even if abusive or insulting, are insufficient provocation to negate malice and reduce a homicide to manslaughter. The court rejected the notion that adequate provocation existed as a result of the victim’s actions in allowing the defendant to have sex with her in order to manipulate him into helping facilitate her relationship with the other man. The court also noted that that there was a lapse in time between the sexual intercourse, the victim’s request for the defendant’s cell phone and her taunting of him and the homicide. Finally the court noted that the defendant stabbed the victim 29 times, suggesting premeditation.