Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Hokenson case brief

State v. Hokenson case brief summary
527 P.2d 487 (1974)

Defendant appealed from the judgment of the Second Judicial District Court for Nez Perce County (Idaho), which convicted him, upon a jury verdict, of murder in the first degree, in violation of Idaho Code § 18-603, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Defendant entered a drug store, carrying a bomb, with the intent to commit a robbery. When police officers were called to the store, the bomb exploded, killing one of the officers.

At the trial, two black and white photographs of the deceased officer's body were entered into evidence over defendant's objection. On appeal, defendant contended that this evidence was irrelevant to any material issue in the case and served only to inflame the passions of the jury.


  • The court disagreed. 
  • It was the State's duty to prove all the material elements of the crime charged even where, as here, a defendant conceded the fact and cause of death. 
  • To establish murder under Idaho Code § 18-603, the material elements consisted of showing that the homicide was committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, or that the homicide was committed while engaged in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight after the crime in question. 
  • The evidence was relevant because it showed defendant's reckless indifference to human life and it corroborated the testimony of other witnesses. 
  • The court held that defendant was liable under § 18-603 for the officer's death even though he was under arrest at the time the bomb exploded. 
  • A person was criminally liable for unlawful forces set in motion during the commission of an unlawful act.

The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

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