Girouard v. State
321 Md. 532, 583 A.2d 718 (1991)
Girouard and his wife were
having marital problems. During a heated argument she told him that she
was cheating on him and filed a report that he was abusing her. Then she
repeatedly asked, "what are you gonna do about it?"
What he did about it was get
a kitchen knife and stab her 19 times.
Girouard was arrested and
charged with murder.
The Trial Court convicted
Girouard of second-degree murder.
Girouard argued that the
charge should be reduced to manslaughter because there was provocation.
Typically, provocation can be used to mitigate a murder down to manslaughter, but it is generally limited for cases of
extreme assault and battery, mutual combat, defendant's illegal arrest,
injury or abuse of a close relative of the defendant, or sudden
discovery of adultery.
The prosecutor argued that
words spoken by the victim no matter how abusive or taunting do not
amount to adequate provocation.
The Appellate Court upheld the
The Appellate Court found
that for provocation to be
adequate, it must be "calculated to inflame the passion of a
reasonable man and tend to cause him to act for the moment rather than
The Court found that verbal
taunting was not enough to cause a reasonable man to stab his wife 19
The Court also found that
public policy required them to limit the defense of provocation. Therefore they were going to only apply it
when it met one of the traditional circumstances.