Premeditation and deliberation must be given independent meaning in a prosecution for first-degree murder. To premeditate is to think about beforehand; to deliberate is to measure and evaluate the major facets of a choice or problem. Premeditation and deliberation characterize a thought process undisturbed by hot blood.
Defendant killed the victim following an alleged sexual assault. The jury rejected defendant's claim of self-defense. On appeal, the court held that the evidence presented was not sufficient to support a reasonable inference that defendant killed the victim with the deliberation and premeditation required for a conviction of first-degree murder. The case was remanded for an entry of conviction of murder in the second-degree and resentencing for that conviction.
Did the the evidence introduced at trial fairly support an inference of premeditation and deliberation by defendant?
The court noted that there was no prior relationship between the parties that would tend to show a motive. The murder weapon was not acquired or positioned in preparation for homicide. There was nothing in the record which would support an inference that defendant transported the victim to the secluded location for an illicit or criminal purpose. The infliction of a brutal wound on the victim was not consistent with, let alone evidence of, rational deliberative processes. The jury's verdict was an unequivocal assertion of its finding that defendant did murder the victim; however, the evidence supported only a finding of second-degree murder.