Colorado Man Charged with Assisting Suicide by Giving Roommate Loaded Gun

A case out of Eagle County, Colorado presents a novel question in both criminal law and torts. Jacob Weiss, 19, is charged with manslaughter because he allegedly handed a loaded gun to his suicidal roommate.

Weiss shared an apartment with the 18-year-old, who had discussed suicide. Weiss then gave him a loaded shotgun. Both had been drinking.

Under Colorado law, it is a Class 4 felony to assist in a suicide.

One interesting question is whether, if this can be manslaughter, it can be considered an intentional tort or negligence. Obviously, there are defenses of consent, assumption of the risk, and contributory negligence — depending on the type of tort alleged. However, particularly if the victim (who had not been identified) was viewed as disturbed or lacking capacity at the time, the family could seek civil recovery.

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4 thoughts on “Colorado Man Charged with Assisting Suicide by Giving Roommate Loaded Gun”

  1. Even if there might be tort liability, what kind of money could the family actually recover? Unless this guy is wealthy or has some insurance that covers such claims, it seems civil litigation to recover money damages is pointless. Of course, if there is no criminal liability, a finding of civil liability could be a form of “justice” for the dead a-la OJ Simpson.

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