State v. Wesley

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 01-30-2013
  • Case #: A144180
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The doctrine of transferred intent exists for murder in Oregon despite it not having been codified in the Oregon Revised Statutes. Also, when determining the reliability of an eyewitness identification, it is proper for the Court to apply the test put forth by the Supreme Court in Lawson/James and analyze system and estimator variables.

Defendant appealed a conviction of first degree murder and other crimes. Defendant argued the doctrine of transferred intent does not exist in Oregon because it has not been codified. He also argued that an eyewitness identification which was key in his conviction was the result of suggestive police procedures and therefore, was unreliable. The legislature chose to keep the felony murder rule during the 1971 revisions, although it limited its scope. If killing a person in the course of a “less serious” crime was first degree murder, then killing a person in the course of killing or attempting to kill another person must also constitute first degree murder. The Court held the doctrine of transferred intent does exist in Oregon because to hold otherwise would enact a problem of proportionality. The reliability of the eyewitness identification was analyzed using two types of variables. System variables concern the manner in which the identification is made. Estimator variables concern the state of the eyewitness at the time he or she made the identification. The specific factors to be taken into account when evaluating these variables were laid out in the Lawson/James case. The Court held the eyewitness identification was unreliable because the system variables weighed in favor of unreliability. In this case, the witness had only been shown one picture when asked to make the identification. A144180, reversed and remanded; A144179 affirmed.

Advanced Search