Midgett v. State

292 Ark. 278, 729 S.W.2d 410 (1987)



To show that a defendant acted with a premeditated and deliberated purpose, the state must prove that he (1) had the conscious object to cause death,  (2) formed that intention before acting, and (3) weighed in his mind the consequences of a course of conduct, as distinguished from acting upon sudden impulse without the exercise of reasoning power.

The evidence showed defendant brutally beat his son over a substantial period of time. The son died. The medical examiner concluded death was caused by the beating by a human fist. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder.

Is the evidence of premeditation and deliberation sufficient to convict?




The court reduced to second degree murder and imprisonment for 20 years. It agreed with defendant that regardless of all the evidence of child abuse, there was no showing that the same was premeditated. The court found that in a case of child abuse, the jury could’ve inferred that the defendant did not to expect death of the son, but rather that the son would live for the abuse to continue. The jury was forced to speculate on defendant's intention before weighing the consequences of a possible recourse. Ultimately, the court held that the evidence supported the theory 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.

 To be guilty of premeditated first degree murder, a defendant must not only have the intent to kill, but in addition he must premeditate the killing and deliberate the same. According to the decision, while these qualification have no exact definition, it can be suggested that "deliberation" requires a cool mind that is capable of reflection, and of "premeditation" requires that the one with the cool mind did in fact reflect, at least for a short period of time before his act of killing.

 Note: One month after Midgett was decided, however, the Arkansas General Assembly changed the statute. See Davis v. State, 325 Ark. 96, 105, 925 S.W.2d 768, 773 (1996)

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