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State v. Guthrie

Scott Caron

ProfessorScott Caron

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

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State v. Guthrie
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    Brief Fact Summary. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder for killing a co-worker. Appellant argued that due to several psychiatric problems and the heat of the moment, he killed in the heat of passion.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. There must be some period between the formation of the intent to kill and the actual killing which indicates the killing is by prior design.

    Facts. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder. Appellant killed his co-worker. Prior to the killing, Appellant and Victim had gotten along well. However on that night, Victim and a few others were making jokes about Appellant’s bad mood. Victim snapped Appellant with a towel, which precipitated the killing. Appellant had several psychiatric problems. Appellant argued that the killing was in the heat of passion.

    Issue. Whether Appellant possessed the requisite intent for the crime he was convicted of.

    Held. Case is remanded on other grounds, but Appellant should be given use of the below proper definition of premeditation.
    To allow the State to prove premeditation and deliberation by demonstrating that the intention to kill was in existence only at time of the killing completely eliminated the distinction between the two degrees of murder.

    There must be some period between the formation of the intent to kill and the actual killing which indicates the killing is by prior design.

    Concurrence. The concurrence argues that the majority’s new definition of premeditation will introduce confusion. The jury may think that there needs to be some though out plan or scheme. The concurrence agreed with the majority’s view that intent to kill was equal to premeditation.

    Discussion. The Court first mentioned all the psychiatric evidence presented that Appellant had mental problems that were demonstrated. The Court ruled that although a reasonable jury could find Appellant guilty of first-degree murder, the instructions regarding first-degree murder were erroneous. The Court ruled that they could not retroactively apply the new definition of premeditation, because this case was being overruled on other grounds, Appellant would get the benefit of the new statute.


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