Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Wu case brief

People v. Wu case brief summary
235 Cal. App. 3d 614, 286 Cal. Rptr. 868 (1991)


CASE SYNOPSIS
A jury convicted defendant of second degree murder of her son and sentenced her to prison for 15 years to life, which was rendered by the Superior Court No. ICR 12873 of Riverside County (California). Defendant filed an appeal from her conviction, asserting that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on unconsciousness.

CASE FACTS
Defendant challenged her conviction of second degree murder of her son and sentence to prison from 15 years to life, contending that the trial court erred in refusing to give two requested jury instructions, one relating to the defense of unconsciousness and the other relating to the effect that her Chinese cultural background may have had on her state of mind when she killed her son.

DISCUSSION

  • The court reversed defendant's conviction, holding that it was error for the trial court to refuse to instruct the jury on unconsciousness despite the existence of evidence to support the giving of such an instruction. 
  • The court reasoned that the issue of unconsciousness had not been adversely resolved toward defendant under other instructions given. 
  • The court further ordered the trial court to grant defendant's jury instruction which pointed out that the jury may consider evidence of defendant's cultural background in determining the presence or absence of the relevant mental states, which was clearly relevant on the issues of premeditation and deliberation.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed defendant conviction because the jury was not instructed on unconsciousness, despite the existence of evidence to support the giving of such a jury instruction, and because the issue of unconsciousness was not resolved adversely to defendant under the other instructions given.


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