Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Stone case brief

People v. Stone case brief summary
 92 Cal. Rptr.3d 362 (2009)

Defendant was charged with and convicted of a single count of attempted murder for firing a single shot at a group of 10 people. The California Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, reversed the attempted murder conviction, concluding that the trial court prejudicially misinstructed the jury on the intent requirement of attempted murder. It also found insufficient evidence to support the conviction. The People petitioned for review.

The instant court concluded that the trial court erred in giving a modified version of a kill zone instruction. The kill zone theory did not fit the charge or facts of this case. Defendant was not charged with 10 attempted murders, one for each member of the group at which he shot. He was charged only with the attempted murder of a named victim and not with the attempted murder of others in the group on which he fired his gun. There was no evidence that defendant used a means to kill the named victim that inevitably would result in the death of other victims within a zone of danger. The information specifically alleged that defendant intended to kill the named victim.

  • This allegation was problematic given that the prosecution ultimately could not prove that defendant targeted a specific person. 
  • In a case like this, the information did not necessarily have to name a specific victim. 
  • For example, it would have been sufficient to allege that defendant committed attempted murder in that he attempted to murder a member of a group of persons who were gathered together. 
  • A charge like this example would have provided defendant adequate notice of the offense of which he was accused.

The judgment of the appellate court was reversed, and the matter was remanded to that court for further proceedings.

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