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Charges Upgraded from Manslaughter to Second-Degree Murder in St. Pete Death

Scott Greenberg was originally charged with manslaughter relating to the death of his girlfriend earlier this week but the charges have now been upgraded. He told police he had accidentally choked Jennifer Zale to death while they were having sex in a room at the Kenwood Inn Hotel in St. Petersburg. The couple had been living at the motel for several weeks.

Greenberg called 911 on Tuesday, eight hours after he allegedly strangled Zale. He told investigators that they had been having consensual sex that went too far.

After an autopsy was performed on Zale's body, the charge against Greenberg was upgraded to second-degree murder.

According to police, the autopsy showed Zale had bruises on her throat and skull and a broken bone in her neck. They also said that toilet paper had been stuffed down her mouth.

To prove that Greenbery committed manslaughter, prosecutors would have been required to show that Zale was killed as a result of Greenberg's culpable negligence. More than mere negligence, culpable negligence is conduct which shows a gross and careless disregard for the safety and welfare of another person. The negligence must be flagrant.

A person is guilty of second-degree murder in Florida if he kills someone "by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual". In order to show a "depraved mind", prosecutors must show that Greenberg acted with "ill-will, spite, malice or hatred".

A conviction for second-degree murder could result in up to a life sentence; manslaughter carries a possible sentence of up to 15 years.

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