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Law School Case Brief

State v. Prolow - 98 Minn. 459, 108 N.W. 873 (1906)


Regarding premeditation, it is not error to instruct the jury that there may be no appreciable space of time between the intent to kill and the act of killing. They may be as instantaneous as the successive thoughts of the mind. 


The evidence showed that defendant Henry Prolow, while in a saloon, became involved in a controversy with others. He and the others were told to leave the saloon if they were going to fight. Defendant left the saloon, found a revolver, returned to the saloon and became involved in an argument with Charles F. Zemke, the saloon owner. He was ejected from the saloon and, thereupon, shot and killed Zemke. He was indicted and convicted of murder in the first degree in Minnesota state court. Defendant filed a motion for new trial, which was denied. Defendant appealed, contending that premeditation had not been proven to support the conviction. 


Did the trial court err in its jury instructions on premeditation?




The appellate court affirmed defendant's conviction. The court ruled that the trial court did not err in its instruction on premeditation. The court found there was nothing that prevented a finding of premeditation where there was no appreciable time between the intent to kill and act of killing. Every homicide was presumed unlawful and the mere act of killing raised a presumption that it was intentional and malicious. The court found that these presumptions were not rebutted and there was sufficient evidence on the record to support the trial court's judgment. The instructions given at trial were proper and no other instructions were requested.

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