Smallwood v. State

343 Md. 97, 680 A.2d 512 (1996)

 

RULE:

An intent to kill may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Since intent is subjective and, without the cooperation of the accused, cannot be directly and objectively proven, its presence must be shown by established facts which permit a proper inference of its existence. Under the proper circumstances, an intent to kill may be inferred from the use of a deadly weapon directed at a vital part of the human body. Numerous cases make it clear that evidence showing a design to commit grievous bodily injury, such as using a deadly weapon directed at a vital part of the body, is sufficient because it gives rise to an evidentiary inference of an intent to murder.

FACTS:

Despite knowing that he was infected with the HIV virus, defendant had engaged in multiple rapes and robbed his victims. Defendant was convicted by the Circuit Court for attempted second-degree murder and assault with intent to murder. Defendant filed a petition for certiorari, which was granted.

 

ISSUE:

Did defendant possess the requisite intent to support his convictions of attempted second-degree murder and assault with intent to murder?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court reversed defendant's convictions because his exposure of the rape victims to the HIV virus was not sufficient by itself for the trier of fact to infer an intent to kill. The court noted that defendant's actions were wholly explained by an intent to commit rape and armed robbery, crimes for which he had already pled guilty.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.