Boyer v. Belleque

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 10-28-2011
  • Case #: 10-35574
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court, Circuit Judges Fisher and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

In reviewing the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the court looks first to state law to determine the elements of the crime and then to the federal question of whether the state court was objectively unreasonable in concluding the evidence was sufficient to support its decision.

Adam Boyer (“Boyer”) appeals the denial of his habeas corpus petition. Boyer was charged with attempted aggravated murder for committing sexual abuse against individuals while infected with AIDS. On appeal, he argues that evidence presented against him was insufficient to prove he intended to kill, and therefore could not be guilty of, attempted aggravated murder. Reviewing the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the Ninth Circuit looked to Oregon law to determine the elements of the crime and then to the federal question of whether the state court was objectively unreasonable in concluding the evidence was sufficient to support it's decision. After reviewing the Oregon statutes, ORS 163.095 (defining aggravated murder), ORS 163.115 (defining murder), and ORS 161.406 (defining attempt), the Court concluded that the evidence was legally sufficient. The Ninth Circuit further noted that the Oregon case of State v. Hinkhouse, 139 Or. App. 446 (1996), clearly established that the conduct of a person with AIDS who knowingly has unprotected sex, knowing this could be fatal to his partners, satisfies the substantive element of intent for an attempted murder charge in Oregon. The Ninth Circuit held that the state court’s determination that the evidence presented was sufficient to support the conviction was not objectively unreasonable. AFFIRMED.

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