Brief Fact Summary. Petitioner Taylor was charged with the murder of his co-felon who was shot by the victim in the course of an attempted robbery
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An accomplice to a robbery is vicariously liable for any killing attributable to the intentional acts of his co-felons that are committed with a conscious disregard for life.
Issue. Can the petitioner be held accountable for the death of his co-felon where the decedent was killed by the hand of the robbery victim?
Held. Yes. Motion denied.
The Supreme Court of California adheres to the agency theory with regard to felony-murder and therefore, the petitioner cannot be convicted under the felony murder doctrine because when a killing is committed by a victim as opposed to the robber or his accomplice, malice is not attributable to the robber even if the robbery was a proximate cause of the killing.
Petitioner can be convicted on a theory of vicarious liability. An accomplice to a robbery is vicariously liable for any killing attributable to the intentional acts of his co-felons that are committed with a conscious disregard for life.
The central question in determining criminal liability for a killing committed by a resisting victim is whether the conduct of Defendant or his accomplices was sufficiently provocative of lethal resistance to support an implication that the defendant or his accomplices acted with malice.
In this case, the actions taken by Daniels and Smith, regardless of the fact that neither of them fired the first shot, was sufficiently provocative of lethal resistance such that the petitioner can be found guilty of murder under a theory of vicarious liability.
Thus, the victim's self-defensive killing or the police officer's killing in the performance of his duty cannot be considered an independent intervening cause for which the defendant is not liable, for it is a reasonable response to the dilemma thrust upon the victim or the policeman by the intentional act of the defendant or his accomplice.View Full Point of Law