State v. Lopez-Minjarez

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-25-2011
  • Case #: S059045
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Linder, J. for the Court
  • Full Text Opinion

A trial court errs when it instructs a jury that a defendant may be found criminally responsible for all the natural and probable consequences that arise from aiding and abetting a crime if the defendant has conceded guilt of specific charges which support ignorance of other charges.

Defendant and his father drove to the victim’s residence, where the victim was dragged outside, shot, forced into defendant’s vehicle, taken to a secluded logging spur, shot again and killed. At trial, defendant was charged with burglary, assault, kidnapping, felony murder, and aggravated murder. The jury convicted the defendant after the court instructed the jury that a person is criminally responsible for the natural and probable consequences of any crimes that a person aided or abetted, despite defendant’s claim that he was only present and aware of the burglary and kidnapping and not the assault or murder, which he claimed his father committed. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the instruction was given in error and unduly prejudiced the defendant since he offered an alternative set of facts and admitted guilt of the burglary, assault and kidnapping charges. On review, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals as to the assault, felony murder and aggravated murder charges but concluded that the instruction was not prejudicial to the burglary and kidnapping charges. Affirmed in part, reversed in part.

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