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Specific intent to kill and premeditation are not synonymous but are separate and distinct elements of the crime of first degree murder. Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9A.32.030(1)(a), 9A.32.050(1)(a). Premeditation is defined as the deliberate formation of and reflection upon the intent to take a human life and involves the mental process of thinking beforehand, deliberation, reflection, weighing, or reasoning for a period of time, however short. Premeditation must involve more than a moment in point of time. Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.32.020(1).
Lawrence C. Ollens was charged with the crime of aggravated murder in the first degree for the November 9, 1985 robbery/stabbing death of William Tyler, a Tacoma taxicab driver. Before trial respondent moved that the trial court review and dismiss the aggravated first degree murder charge because of lack of evidence to prove the element of premeditation. The trial court dismissed the element of premeditation from Ollens’ trial for first degree murder. The State appealed.
Is there sufficient evidence to allow the issue of premeditation to go to a jury?
The court reversed and rejected Ollens’ argument that the multiple stab wounds inflicted on the victim before he slashed the victim's throat demonstrated only a deliberate intent to kill and did not raise an inference of premeditation. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to submit to the jury the issue of whether Ollens deliberated, formed, and reflected on the intent to take the victim's life in order to effectuate the robbery. The court determined that the existence of premeditation was not speculative when there was evidence that Ollens used a knife, inflicted stab wounds before the slashing, struck the victim from behind, and had a motive to kill.