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A Bullet in a Crowd

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This sounds like a law school hypothetical, but it's a real case:

This case presents the following issues: (1) In a prosecution for a single count of attempted murder, did the trial court err by instructing the jury on the "kill zone" concept (see People v. Bland (2002) 28 Cal.4th 313) when defendant fired a single shot into a crowd although he was ostensibly not shooting at anyone in particular and there was no "primary" target? (2) Did substantial evidence support defendant's conviction for attempted murder in this case?

Cal. Supreme will let us know tomorrow in People v. Stone, S162675.

Update: "Can a person who shoots into a group of people, intending to kill one of the group, but not knowing or caring which one, be convicted of attempted murder? Yes. The mental state required for attempted murder is the intent to kill a human being, not a particular human being." Unanimous opinion by Justice Chin.

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Indiana has some caselaw on that issue. Unfortunately, it is very defendant friendly. If you shoot into a crowd of people and kill someone, you get a reckless homicide instruction (on top of a murder instruction), which allows the jury to give a very lenient verdict. What's really bad about the rule is that a more dangerous act (firing into a crowd) creates the possibility of lenience. Put one person in the "kill zone", and you're getting murder only; put multiple people in the "kill zone", and you may wind up with a reckless homicide conviction.

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