There is no testimony of any witness, aside from the testimony of appellant in open court and his written confession, from which the jury could have found the existence of premeditation and deliberation. Neither did the court find any circumstance which amounts to substantial evidence upon which a finding of premeditation and deliberation could be based. Consequently the court is led to conclude that the jury must have resorted to speculation rather than substantial evidence in arriving at a verdict of murder in the first degree.
The evidence showed defendant brutally beat his son over a substantial period of time. The son died. The medical examiner concluded death was the beating by a human fist. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder. On appeal, the defendant alleged that the state's evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction due to his lack of premeditation and deliberation.
Was a father's conviction of first degree murder proper in the beating death of his son, where there was a pattern of beating but no showing of premedition?
The court affirmed the conviction of defendant for murder. However, the court modified the conviction from first degree to second degree and reduced his imprisonment to 20 years. The court agreed with defendant that in spite of all the evidence of child abuse there was no evidence that the death was premeditated and deliberated. The court found that in a case of child abuse of long duration the jury could have inferred that the defendant came not to expect death of the son, but rather that the son would live so that the abuse may continue. The jury was forced to speculate on defendant's intention before acting and weighing the consequences of a course of conduct. The court held that the evidence supported only the conclusion that defendant intended not to kill his son but to further abuse him or that his intent, if it was to kill the child, was developed in a drunken, heated, rage while disciplining the son. Neither of those supported a finding of premeditation or deliberation.