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Law School Case Brief

Burgeon v. State - 102 Nev. 43, 714 P.2d 576 (1986)

Rule:

When it is necessary to show the state of mind of the accused at the time of the commission of the offense for the purpose of establishing self-defense, specific acts which tend to show that the deceased was a violent and dangerous person may be admitted, provided that the specific acts of violence of the deceased were known to the accused or had been communicated to him.

Facts:

Defendant attempted to sell a gun to a person sitting in a car in a store parking lot. In the process, he fired three gunshots and one of which struck and killed the victim. The trial court refused to admit prior acts of violence performed by the victim and refused to allow the defense to call the victim's father as a character witness. Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. Defendant appealed.

Issue:

Is there sufficient evidence to support the second degree conviction of defendant?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed defendant's second degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon conviction. It held that evidence of the character of a victim of a crime could be offered by an accused. However, even if it was error not to admit the testimony of the victim's father, defense counsel failed to make any offer of proof.

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