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 grâce, 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.

_________________________________________________

I hate to hassle people for money, but contributions have been lagging this month.

Writing articles every day and maintaining the integrity and safety of this site from people who would like nothing better than to silence us forever is a tough job requiring many hours of work.

If you like this site, please consider making a secure donation via Paypal by clicking the yellow donation button in the upper right corner just below the search box.

Thank you,

Fred


Zimmerman: Did George Zimmerman’s Conduct Exhibit Premeditation? UPDATED Below

August 22, 2012

We not only have considerable evidence of a depraved mind with no regard for human life, we have substantial evidence of premeditation that could lead a grand jury to indict Zimmerman for Murder in the First Degree, if the prosecution were inclined to seek an indictment, because the evidence from out of his own mouth shows that he

(1) grabbed his gun,

(2) extended his arm beyond his left hand so that he would not accidentally shoot it,

(3) aimed his gun at point blank range,

(4) pulled the trigger shooting Martin in the chest,

(5) rolled Martin’s body over so that it was face down in the wet grass,

(6) told witnesses not to call 911 because he had already done that even though he knew that no ambulance was on the way because the dispatcher at the non-emergency number that he called had only dispatched an officer to the neighborhood, rather than to a specific address, to investigate a suspicious circumstance, and

(7) mounted him by straddling his body with his full weight on Martin’s back while, according to winesses Mary Cutcher and Selma Mora), leaning forward with his hands on Martin’s neck restricting Martin’s airway.

Proof of premeditation does not require a minimum amount of time. It does require evidence that a defendant formed the specific intent to kill, reflected on the decision to kill, and went ahead and killed the person.

In Berube v. State, 5 So. 3d 734 (2009), the Court defined premeditation as follows:

“Premeditation is the essential element which distinguishes first-degree murder from second-degree murder.

“Premeditation is defined as more than a mere intent to kill; it is a fully formed conscious purpose to kill.

“This purpose to kill may be formed a moment before the act but must exist for a sufficient length of time to permit reflection as to the nature of the act to be committed and the probable result of that act.”

The evidence that establishes intent to kill is the shooting itself. Depravity, reflection and renewed intent to kill (i.e., premeditation) are established by the multiple acts after the shot to delay, to the maximum extent possible, the arrival of emergency medical assistance that, from his perspective, might have saved TM’s life, while at the same time secretively and furtively attempting to administer the coup de grace in the dark area between the two buildings of townhouses within view of many witnesses, including children.

GZ’s actions after the shot also are probative of his intentions before the shot, unless he wants to argue that he was just trying to euthanize Martin to prevent him from suffering, which would be exceedingly unwise to argue for reasons that I am certain I do not have to explain.

In other words, if he had not premeditated the death of TM, he would not have continued his attempt to kill him by suffocating him and delaying the arrival of emergency medical assistance.

He had an opportunity to change his mind, but he decided to continue his effort to kill Martin.

If I were Angela Corey, I would be inclined to leave the charge as is at second degree murder because it’s punishable by life in prison and GZ’s conduct is so extremely depraved and shocking to human sensibility that a life sentence is likely.

Since the probable sentence would be the same, there is no reason to prosecute him for the more serious offense.

Last, but by no means least, GZ’s depraved behavior after the shot exhibits consciousness of guilt because:

(1) He is not reasonably in imminent danger of suffering death or serious bodily injury, and

(2) He is attempting to kill the only witness who could definitively refute his claim that he shot Martin in self-defense

Put another way, if he truly shot Martin in self-defense as he claims, he would not have any reason to attempt to delay the arrival of medical attention to the maximum extent possible while attempting to secretively and furtively finish the job of killing him by smothering him to death in front of many witnesses, including children.

UPDATE: Mary Cutcher filled out a handwritten statement dated February 26th, the night of the shooting (p.102 of 184), in which she told the police she and her roommate, Selma Mora stepped out on their patio after the shot and twice asked George Zimmerman what was going on. She said he told the to “just call the police.” Her handwritten statement was released in the first document dump. (H/T to CommonSenseForChange)

UPDATE 2: Mirre commented,

“I thought 46 seconds was a long time. If you listen to Selma’s statement, knowing that Trayvon may have been concious, the depraved mind becomes very obvious. In Tchoupi’s chart, you can also see that one second before W18 tells the dispatcher, she sees GZ getting up, W3 tells the dispatcher she can see the police arriving on TTL.

Depraved mind indeed.”

Looks like George Zimmerman may have already known the police had arrived when he told Mary Cutcher and Selma Mora to “just call the police.”

His behavior prior to telling them to call 911 demonstrated no concern for Martin.

Equally important, I think, is that he did not call 911 to seek emergency medical treatment for himself. That suggests he knew his injuries were minor, even if bleeding and painful, and it was more important to him to gain more time for Trayvon Martin to die than it was to get medical assistance for himself.

How chilling is that?


%d bloggers like this: