The Supreme Court of Colorado has indicated that evidence of voluntary intoxication is competent, as a matter of due process, to disprove specific intent when that mental state is an element of a crime charged. This rule applies only to specific intent crimes and does not mandate a departure from the rule that evidence of voluntary intoxication is incompetent to disprove general rather than specific intent.
Defendant took a motorcycle from an apartment house. A bystander alerted residents of the apartment house. The victim and several other persons pursued defendant and overtook him. A confrontation occurred, during which defendant killed the victim with a knife. Defendant was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Colorado.
Was it proper for the jury to convict defendant of second-degree murder?
The Court held that the jury could conclude from the evidence that defendant was aware that the death of the victim was more than merely a probable result of his actions. This was sufficient for the second-degree murder conviction for knowingly causing the victim's death. The jury was properly instructed that it could consider evidence of defendant's voluntary intoxication only on the specific intent charge of first-degree murder, not to disprove the general intent crime of second-degree murder.