Attempted murder requires the intent to kill plus a direct but ineffectual act toward its commission. Generally, the question whether the defendant harbored the required intent must be inferred from the circumstances.
During a party, a man ran to the front yard when he heard one of his fellow gang members had been involved in a fight. He aimed a handgun at a car occupied by rival gang members. He pulled the trigger but the gun failed to fire. During interview with the police, he confessed that he pulled the trigger. A case was filed against him. At trial, the trial court found that his confession was voluntary. There was no evidence of coercion by the detective, the interrogation did not continue over an extended period of time and was interrupted, the detective did not deceive defendant regarding the strength of the evidence against him, the detective was not present when defendant wrote the incriminating statement, and defendant confirmed the contents of the written statement in a videotaped interview. The jury could understand and evaluate all the evidence presented at defendant's trial without the assistance of an expert on police interrogation. The trial court convicted him of four counts of attempted willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder and one count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeal of California.
Was the conviction proper?
The Court held that substantial evidence supported the convictions. A reasonable trier of fact properly could have concluded that defendant harbored the intent to kill. The jury also properly could have concluded the attempted murders had been willful, deliberate, and premeditated. There was evidence of planning and motive and the manner of the attempted murder, firing numerous rounds at an occupied vehicle, showed the shooting was purposeful.