Law School Case Brief
People v. Perez - 2 Cal. 4th 1117, 9 Cal. Rptr. 2d 577, 831 P.2d 1159 (1992)
Premeditated and deliberate murder is defined further as follows: The true test is not the duration of time, but rather the extent of the reflection. A cold, calculated judgment and decision may be arrived at in a short period of time, but a mere unconsidered and rash impulse, even though it included an intent to kill, is not such deliberation and premeditation as will fix an unlawful killing as murder of the first degree. To constitute a deliberate and premeditated killing, the slayer must weigh and consider the question of killing and the reasons for and against such a choice and, having in mind the consequences, he decides to and does kill.
Defendant had stabbed a victim multiple times, and defense counsel argued that defendant had acted in a rage, thereby precluding a finding of first degree murder. The jury convicted defendant of first degree, premeditated and deliberate murder. The appellate court reduced defendant's first degree murder conviction to second degree murder for insufficient evidence of premeditation and deliberation. On further review, the state supreme court reversed the judgment of the appellate court.
Was murder premeditated and deliberate when defendant acted in rage when he stabbed and killed the victim?
There was sufficient evidence in the record to support the jury's findings of premeditated and deliberate murder beyond a reasonable doubt based on how the victim was killed, planning activity, and motive. Defendant obtained a knife from the kitchen, the victim was acquainted with defendant and could identify him, and defendant went searching for another knife after he broke the first one. The evidence did not give rise to instruct sua sponte on the provocation that would reduce first degree murder to second degree murder because there was no evidence of provocation in the record.
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