Law School Case Brief
State v. Foster - 202 Conn. 520, 522 A.2d 277 (1987)
Mere presence as an inactive companion, passive acquiescence, or the doing of innocent acts which may in fact aid the one who commits the crime must be distinguished from the criminal intent and community of unlawful purpose shared by one who knowingly and willfully assists the perpetrator of the offense in the acts which prepare for, facilitate or consummate it. Thus, accessorial liability is predicated upon the actor's state of mind at the time of his actions, and whether that state of mind is commensurate to the state of mind required for the commission of the offense. If a person, in intentionally aiding another, acts with the mental culpability required for the commission of a crime be it "intentional" or "criminally negligent" he is liable for the commission of that crime.
Defendant was bitter about his girlfriend being raped, he purposefully went looking for the perpetrator, encountered the perpetrator, beat him, and gave his accomplice a knife to keep the perpetrator from leaving. Th accomplice killed the perpetrator. Defendant claimed that there was no such crime as being an accessory to criminally negligent homicide because it was impossible for him to have intended the consequences of criminally negligent homicide.
Could the defendant be held criminally liable as an accessory to criminally negligent homicide?
The court rejected the claim because being an accessory to a crime was not itself a crime. Rather, Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-8 presented another means by which a substantive crime could be committed. Accessorial liability was predicated on defendant's intentionally aiding an accomplice and with the mental culpability required to commit the crime. The circumstantial evidence was sufficient to prove that crime . Thus, a jury could reasonably have believed that defendant failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death could occur. Related to the kidnapping charge, the court's review of the jury instructions as a whole showed that the definitions of "restrain" and "abduct" were not misleading or inadequate.
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