State v. Yates

In State v. Yates, 64 Wn. App. 345, 824 P.2d 519, review denied, 119 Wn.2d 1017, 833 P.2d 1390 (1992), the defendant raped, stabbed, strangled, and shot the victim, rendering her permanently comatose. The victim's family and her doctors later decided to remove her feeding tube and respirator, and she subsequently died. Yates was charged with, and convicted of, first degree murder. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury that the State had the burden of proving that the removal of life support was not a new and independent cause of the victim's death. The court affirmed, holding that "when life support is removed, the cause of death is not the removal, but whatever agency generated the need for the life support in the first instance." Yates, 64 Wn. App. at 351.