State v. Henson

221 Kan. 635, 562 P.2d 51 (1977)



Premeditation and deliberation can be found from various circumstances, such as the nature of the weapon used, the lack of provocation, the defendant's conduct before and after the killing, threats and declarations of defendant before and during the occurrence, or the dealing of lethal blows after the deceased was felled and rendered helpless.


A female acquaintance of defendant was found stabbed to death in her apartment. Defendant's bloody palm print was found at the scene. A jury found defendant guilty of first degree premeditated murder. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Kansas.


Was the conviction proper?




The court held that there was substantial evidence to support the jury's finding of premeditation as an element of first degree murder because defendant used a deadly weapon in his assault, he had used a knife in a recent civil wrong in a manner similar to the assault on the victim, the location of the stab wounds indicated deliberation, and defendant was looking for the victim on the night of the murder. Moreover, the trial court properly admitted the testimony of a witness pertaining to a prior civil wrong that defendant had committed upon her because the testimony was used to show defendant's identity, which was a critical issue at trial. Furthermore, the trial court properly admitted black and white photographs of the gruesome crime scene because they were relevant to the critical issue of premeditation. The photographs depicted the violence of the crime because they showed a lack of provocation on the part of the victim.

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