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. He appealed.
    • 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 conviction.
    • 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 reason.”
      • The Court found that verbal taunting was not enough to cause a reasonable man to stab his wife 19 times.
    • 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.