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Law School Case Brief

State v. Davis - 182 W. Va. 482, 388 S.E.2d 508 (1989)

Rule:

A conviction may be obtained so long as the evidence shows that the defendant fit any one of the traditional roles of parties to a crime. A person who is the absolute perpetrator of a crime is a principal in the first degree, and a person who is present, aiding and abetting the fact to be done, is a principal in the second degree. An accessory before the fact is a person who being absent at the time and place of the crime, procures, counsels, commands, incites, assists or abets another person to commit the crime, and absence at the time and place of the crime is an essential element of the status of an accessory before the fact.

Facts:

Defendant was convicted after a jury found him guilty of second-degree sexual assault, first-degree sexual abuse, and abduction. Factual antecedents provided that when defendant’s son forced the victim into a bedroom during her visit to their residence, defendant followed and laid next to them while the son raped the victim. Defendant sought review.

Issue:

Is the conviction of defendant of sexual assault supported by evidence?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the sexual assault conviction because the evidence suggested that defendant's presence had facilitated and encouraged his son's actions. Therefore, he was liable as a principal in the second degree. The court also found that a police officer's failure to sign an affidavit did not render a search warrant invalid because he was identified in the affidavit and had attested before a magistrate that its contents were true.

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