Kill zone limited: defendant must intend to kill everyone present

June 24, 2019 Leave a comment

Kill zone limited: defendant must intend to kill everyone present

People v. Canizales

S221958

https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S221958.PDF

This case concerns whether the trial court properly
instructed the jury on the so-called kill zone theory, under which
a defendant may be convicted of the attempted murder of an
individual who was not the defendant’s primary target. As we
shall explain, we conclude that a jury may convict a defendant
under the kill zone theory only when the jury finds that: (1) the
circumstances of the defendant’s attack on a primary target,
including the type and extent of force the defendant used, are
such that the only reasonable inference is that the defendant
intended to create a zone of fatal harm — that is, an area in
which the defendant intended to kill everyone present to ensure
the primary target’s death — around the primary target; and
(2) the alleged attempted murder victim who was not the
primary target was located within that zone of harm. Taken
together, such evidence will support a finding that the
defendant harbored the requisite specific intent to kill both the
primary target and everyone within the zone of fatal harm.
We caution, however, that trial courts must be extremely
careful in determining when to permit the jury to rely upon the
kill zone theory. The kill zone theory permits a jury to infer a
defendant’s intent to kill an alleged attempted murder victim
from circumstantial evidence (the circumstances of the
defendant’s attack on a primary target). But, under the
reasonable doubt standard, a jury may not find a defendant
acted with the specific intent to kill everyone in the kill zone if
the circumstances of the attack would also support a reasonable
alternative inference more favorable to the defendant. (See
CALCRIM No. 225.) Permitting reliance on the kill zone theory
in such cases risks the jury convicting a defendant based on the
kill zone theory where it would not be proper to do so. As past
cases reveal, there is a substantial potential that the kill zone
theory may be improperly applied, for instance, where a
defendant acts with the intent to kill a primary target but with
only conscious disregard of the risk that others may be seriously
injured or killed. Accordingly, in future cases trial courts should
reserve the kill zone theory for instances in which there is
sufficient evidence from which the jury could find that the only
reasonable inference is that the defendant intended to kill (not
merely to endanger or harm) everyone in the zone of fatal harm.
In the present matter, defendants Michael Canizales and
KeAndre Windfield were jointly charged and tried before a
single jury on counts including first degree murder and two
attempted murders. The trial court gave a kill zone instruction
in connection with one of the two alleged attempted murder
victims. The Court of Appeal concluded that the jury was
properly instructed on that theory, and upheld defendants’
attempted murder convictions. We conclude there was not
sufficient evidence in the record to support an instruction on the
kill zone theory, and that the error requires reversal of the
attempted murder convictions at issue because those convictions
may have been based on the kill zone theory even though that
theory was not properly applicable.

Advertisements

Another death penalty affirmed

June 24, 2019 Leave a comment

The Cal. Supremes affirmed another death penalty:

People v. Mitchell

S147335

https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S147335.PDF

Coming Monday

June 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Coming Monday from the Cal. Supremes:

PEOPLE v. CANIZALES (MICHAEL RAFAEL) et al.
S221958 (E054056; San Bernardino County Superior Court – FVA1001265)
Argued in Los Angeles 4-03-19
This case presents the following issue: Was the jury properly instructed on the
“kill zone” theory of attempted murder?

PEOPLE v. MITCHELL (LOUIS, JR.)
S147335 (San Bernardino County Superior Court – FSB051580)
Argued in Los Angeles 4-03-19
This matter is an automatic appeal from a judgment of death.

No new criminal cases tomorrow

June 19, 2019 Leave a comment

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new criminal cases tomorrow.

No new cases Monday

June 14, 2019 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases Monday.

The Cal. Supremes affirm another death penalty

June 14, 2019 Comments off

No new cases Monday

June 14, 2019 Comments off