The Police spotted Acosta in a
stolen car. He sped off like a maniac leading the police on a high speed
As part of the chase, the
police employed several helicopters to track Acosta. Two of the
helicopters crashed into each other, and three people were killed.
The crash was mostly likely
due to negligent flying on the part of one of the pilots.
Acosta was arrested and
charged with second-degree murder
for the death of the pilots.
Acosta argued that while he
may have been culpable for anyone who was hurt due to his maniacal
driving, he had nothing to do with the helicopters and therefore he did
not have malice, nor was there proximate
The Trial Court convicted
Acosta of second-degree murder. He
The Trial Court found that
in order for there to be proximate cause, the prosecutor would have to show that the helicopter crash was
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found
that it was foreseeable that there could be a helicopter crash as a
result of Acosta's police chase, even if such events were rare.
Therefore there was proximate cause.
However, the Court found
that there was no evidence to show that Acosta consciously disregarded
the risk to the helicopter pilots, so there wasn't sufficient evidence of
Had Acosta caused a car
crash, he would be culpable for that because he was consciously
disregarding the risk to other drivers by fleeing like a maniac.
In a dissent it was argued
that the pilots were not within the 'zone of danger' created by the
defendant, and that Acosta couldn't have caused the helicopters to crash
if he tried. Therefore there was no proximate cause.
Model Penal Code
§2.03(2)(b) asks whether the result
is "too remote or accidental in its occurrence to have a just bearing
on the actor's liability or on the gravity of his offense."