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Law School Case Brief

Baker v. State - 905 P.2d 479 (Alaska Ct. App. 1995)

Rule:

Alaska Stat. §§ 12.-15.010 abrogate the distinction between an accessory before the fact and a principal, and between principals in the first and second degree; and all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether they directly commit the act constituting the crime or aid and abet in its commission, shall be prosecuted, tried, and punished as principals.

Facts:

Defendant Donald L. Baker and two accomplices decided to get free pizzas by ordering home delivery, and robbing the delivery person when he came to deliver the order. After a trial in Alaska state court, Baker was convicted of second-degree robbery. Defendant appealed, contending that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on accomplice liability and that the State failed to present sufficient independent evidence to corroborate the testimony of defendant's accomplices.

Issue:

Was Baker's conviction for second-degree robbery proper even if the trial court erred in instructing the jury on accomplice liability?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed defendant's conviction. The court held that regardless of whether the trial judge instructed the jury that the accomplices were accomplices as a matter of law, the jurors clearly reached the same conclusion when they applied the test set forth in the jury instruction given by the trial court. The court also held that applying common-law definitions, if Baker was one of the three men who waited in ambush for the pizza delivery person, then he was a principal in the robbery.

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