Proof of premeditation requires proof of reflection on decision to kill and discussion of the Arias allocution

May 21, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good afternoon:

To prove premeditation, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to kill the victim and, upon reflecting on the decision to kill, decided to go ahead and kill the victim. This process can occur quickly and only requires more than a moment in time to take place. Therefore, time is not particularly important to proving premeditation.

A prosecutor must rely on circumstantial evidence to prove premeditation, unless the defendant has admitted that he or she premeditated the murder. The most powerful circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s intent is the defendant’s conduct. The greater the length of time between formation of intent to kill and the act that causes death, the more likely the defendant reflected on the decision to kill and decided to complete the act.

Many of us, including me, have speculated that GZ premeditated the death of Trayvon Martin. However, a prosecutor must restrict himself to charging what he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why GZ is charged with second degree murder. It is a conservative charging decision based on the uncertainty of convincing all of the jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that GZ reflected on a decision to kill Trayvon Martin and decided to go ahead and do it.

Now consider the Jodi Arias case. Seems to me that there is overwhelming evidence of careful planning before the murder, and the use of two weapons (knife and gun) to carry it out, including a coup de grĂ¢ce, eliminates any doubt in my mind that she had opportunities to reflect on her decision to kill and decided to complete the act.

Jodi Arias just finished addressing the jury (her right to allocution) and the Court is now instructing the jury.

What did you all think about her allocution and what do you think the sentence will be?

Keep in mind during the jury deliberation that any mental illness qualifies as a potential mitigating factor. Insanity is a legal definition that requires proof that, due to a mental illness, a defendant could not distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the act. Any effort to conceal the commission of the crime and/or the person’s role in committing the crime normally defeats the insanity defense. Arias is not claiming insanity.

Closing arguments will begin at 1:30 pm PDT.

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