The Case of Commonwealth v. Pestinikas Essay

This of a contract between Kly and the Pestinikas family (appellants) leading to conviction of the Mr. and Mrs. Pestinikas of murder. This couple had signed a contract to take care of elderly Kly (that is, to give him food suitable shelter, prescribed drugs, and care. Instead of doing as per the contract, they mistreated the deceased by making him go through hard conditions leading to his death. The two had agreed to take care of the deceased at a cost of $ 300 each month. However, contrary to this they starved, dehydrated him to death, and withdrew over $ 30,000 from his account, which was a criminal offense constitutionally. In addition, the two denied his family access to see him by lying that they never knew where the old man had gone. The district court found them guilty of negligence, hence convicting them of third degree murder. Later on (after two years), the superior court removed the charges from the Pestikanas, hence overturning the ruling considering that there was no rule that convicted contract caregivers to provide care to their patients. However, later on, on serious consideration, the same court restored the charges, hence convicting the two of third degree murder (Nissey, 2007, p. 1).


The case of Commonwealth v. Pestinikas primarily involved breach of contract between three individuals, where two were to act as caregivers as per the contract agreement. Referring to the statutes 18 Pa. C. S. and 301 (a) and B, which states that, firstly, individuals are guilty of a criminal offense if only their liability emanates from the fact that they can offer voluntary help or if they neglect to do acts that they have capability of doing. Secondly, omission if the law specifies the offense or imposes on an individual the duty to do . In addition, subsection (b) provisions state that, unless the law states the omission, hence defining the offense, then the law imposes such liability on individuals. On the other hand, the duty to adhere to contractual terms emanates from a section of the civil law, although omission depended on many factors. This is because depending on provisions in the law, there are clear distinctions between moral and legal duty. Hence, , the contractual terms imposed on the Pestinikas a legal duty to act, hence because they failed to do the same they were guilty of criminal homicide.

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Following consideration of the above provisions of the law, the superior court at first removed the charges as passed by the district court, but on further and critical examination of the case, it reinstated the criminal offense, hence convicting the two of third degree murder.


The contractual terms placed a legal duty on the Pestinikas to take care of Kly, which they neglected. Although there were no clear provisions in law as concerns contract care giving, the law imposed the same on the two, which they neglected,; hence, accelerating his death. The two were guilty because, from the evidence from the crime scene, the appellants had failed provide Kly with necessities: medicine, food, and shelter, as they had agreed in the oral contract. In addition, they provided wrong information to his family and his medical attendant hence, likelihoods of malice (Black Law Students Association, 2008, p.1).

Separate opinions

There was a dissenting opinion from , whereby he argued that there was a clear difference between duties imposed by law and those by agreements; contracts. He further added, nobody forces any individuals to enter into contract, hence if the contract specifies any duties, which individuals should perform then their satisfaction (duties) should be voluntary. Hence, considering provisions in law 301 (b) (2), the no omission, which forms the main foundation of an omission.


Although there were no clear provisions of contractual liability in the law, and the dissent question never considered the most important fundamentals of this cases, abandoning of a sick old man was morally wrong , because his accelerated his death. In addition, considering contractual terms, the law had imposed on the two legal duties of taking care Kly, hence there had to be liable of the offense.


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