To be a principal to a crime, the conspirator need only intend to agree or conspire and to commit the offense which is the object of the conspiracy; while the aider and abettor must intend to commit the offense or to encourage or facilitate its commission.
A chiropractor, in an effort to locate his former receptionist with whom he had an affair, hired a patient to question witnesses as to the receptionists whereabouts, and to assault them if necessary in order to obtain information. This resulted in the shooting death of a friend of the receptionist's husband. The chiropractor and patient were convicted of conspiracy to commit an assault likely to produce great bodily injury, and murder. The accused challenged their convictions on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance, jury misinstruction, improperly admitted hearsay evidence, and insufficient evidence. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeal of California.
Were the convictions proper?
The court held that any prejudice flowing from the prosecutor's questions was minimized by the witness's testimony, which completely eliminated any suggestions of wrongdoing. Additionally, the admission of gang member evidence which was improperly placed before the jury did not support a reasonable probability that the jury would have reached a different verdict. The court held that in reviewing the allegations of misconduct, while it found error, it also found that no significant prejudice to appellants resulted. The court also held that appellants failed to establish their burden of showing that they received ineffective assistance of counsel. Additionally, substantial evidence supported the application of conspiracy and aiding and abetting theories, and the murder conviction, predicated on the principals' conduct was also substantially supported.