Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Utter case brief

People v. Utter case brief summary
101 Cal.Rptr. 214 (1972)

Defendant appealed the judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which convicted him following a jury trial of murder and robbery, both in the first degree, and grand theft alleging that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to conduct the murder trial and that evidence was improperly admitted.

Defendant was convicted of murder, robbery, and grand theft.


  • On appeal, the court ruled that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the murder because the whole record, which included defendant's acts of enticing victim to undertake the fatal trip, purchasing the tickets, and acquiring the assumed murder weapon, fell short of an attempt when applied against the more restrictive reading of the language of Cal. Penal Code §§ 27(1) and 778a. 
  • The court ruled that the express language of Cal. Penal Code § 27 conferred jurisdiction on the trial court over the robbery count because the evidence showed that defendant brought the jewelry to the state. 
  • The court ruled against defendant's arguments that several items of evidence were improperly admitted because it found that the evidence was appropriately testimony as either prior acts of misconduct to prove motive, testimony to prove the victim's state of mind, prior consistent statements to prove that testimony was not a recent fabrication, exceptions under the business records rule, or as not being within hearsay restrictions. 
  • The court held that evidence regarding the weapon used by defendant was properly admitted.

The court modified the judgment by reversing the judgment on the murder count, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction and affirming the judgment on the robbery and grand theft counts and deleting the reference to a third count of grand theft. The court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

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