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People v. Gentry

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Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Stanley Gentry (Defendant), was convicted of attempted murder after pouring gasoline on his girlfriend, which then ignited.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The crime of attempt requires intent to do an act constituting a substantial step toward committing a crime and a specific intent to commit the crime attempted.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

To warrant interference with a verdict of guilt on the ground of insufficiency of evidence, the court must be convinced that the evidence was manifestly inadequate and that consequent injustice has been done.

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Facts. The Defendant and the victim, the Defendant’s girlfriend, had been arguing. During the argument, the Defendant intentionally poured gasoline on the Defendant. The gasoline ignited when the victim went near the stove. The Defendant smothered the flames with a coat, but the victim was severely burned.

Issue. Must the Defendant specifically intend to commit the crime attempted?

Held. Yes. In the case of attempted murder, the Defendant must intend to actually kill the victim. Here, it was the Defendant himself who extinguished the fire caused by his pouring of gasoline on the victim. There was also no evidence that he started the fire on the victim. The trial court incorrectly instructed the jury on the various mental states for murder, which implied that the Defendant could be guilty of attempt if he possessed any of the mental states for murder.

Discussion. Attempt requires that the defendant intend to commit the crime attempted.

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