Thursday, November 21, 2013

State v. Ochoa case brief

State v. Ochoa case brief summary
72 P.2d 609 (N.M. 1937)

Defendants appealed from a decision of the District Court, San Juan County (New Mexico), which convicted them of murder in the second degree.

A crowd gathered at the office of the justice of peace in an effort to free a prisoner who was there for a hearing. When the sheriff and his deputies attempted to return the prisoner to jail, gunfire was exchanged, and the sheriff was killed. Ten men were charged with the crime; seven were acquitted, and three were convicted of second-degree murder.

  • On appeal, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and held that: 
  • (1) as to one of the defendants, no evidence sufficiently connected him with the unlawful design of the sheriff's slayer, and, therefore, no evidence supported his conviction of second-degree murder as an aider and abettor; 
  • (2) the other two defendants were involved in an assault on a deputy, which was sufficient to show that they shared the intent of the slayer, and aided and abetted him in his unlawful undertaking; 
  • (3) it was not error for the district court to refuse to grant defendants' motions for severance; 
  • (4) there were no errors in the instructions given to the jury; and 
  • (5) the complaint, as supplemented by the bill of particulars, was sufficient to inform defendants of the exact nature of the charges against them.

The court reversed the second-degree murder conviction of the defendant who was not connected with the sheriff's slayer. The court affirmed the second-degree murder convictions of the two defendants who were involved in an assault on a deputy when the sheriff was killed.

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