Case Caption: Glenwood David III v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S.Ct. Crim. No. 2019-0036Date: 06/09/2020Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: 2020 VI 8Summary: In a prosecution for negligent homicide by means of a motor vehicle, under the plan language of 20 V.I.C. § 504 a defendant may be found guilty for either operating a vehicle in a reckless manner or operating a vehicle with disregard for the safety of others (which requires proof of at least negligence on the part of the defendant). Under 20 V.I.C. § 492 conviction for operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner requires a showing of willful or wanton disregard for the safety of person or property, thus if the evidence is sufficient to support a finding of recklessness under § 492, it is necessarily sufficient to satisfy the mens rea requirement for negligent homicide under § 504. In this case the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that the defendant operated his vehicle in a reckless manner in turning across oncoming traffic, and it was not error to deny the defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal or a new trial on these charges. Nor did the Superior Court err by not instructing the jury on the legal effect of the decedent’s own purported negligence in causing the collision since, unlike civil matters, a contributory negligence defense is not applicable in prosecutions for criminal homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle. Section § 504 does not require that the prosecution prove that a defendant’s actions were the sole proximate cause of the decedent’s death, nor would a finding of negligence on the part of a decedent driver necessarily negate any essential element of the offense of negligent driving under this statute. Accordingly, the present defendant was not entitled to a jury instruction on contributory negligence. The judgment is affirmed for the defendant’s convictions under both statutes.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion