Court Reverses Conviction For Hells Angels Gang Member

This case marks a very difficult decision for our high Court because it involves attempted murder of a cop.  The accused, a member of the “Filthy Few,” an enforcer contingent of the Hell’s Angels, assaulted a man and left him unconscious. Because the defendant was known to officers in the Sheriff’s Office to be “armed and unpredictable,” a SWAT team was dispatched to the defendant’s home to arrest him. Numerous shots were fired; the officers took cover. After a standoff, defendant surrendered. A jury convicted him of 10 premeditated attempted murder counts on various officers. On appeal he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence.  Interestingly, the District Attorney decided to pursue the charges of attempted murder rather than something less such as criminal assault or reckless discharge of a gun.  This type of overcharging is common in Courts such as Long Beach, particularly where police are the alleged victims.

The California Appeals Court threw out many of the attempted murder convictions.  Attempted murder requires the specific intent to kill and the commission of a direct but ineffectual act towards accomplishing the killing. Guilt of attempted murder must be separately determined as to each victim. Where a bullet is fired at a victim at close range in a manner that could have killed had the bullet been on target, the evidence is sufficient to show attempted murder. It need not be shown the defendant intended to kill a particular person, such as where a bullet is fired into a crowd with the intent to kill one of the group. However, where there are multiple possible victims, intent to kill must be proved for each count charged. Here, three of the counts were based on defendant firing a shot at three officers. Because there was no evidence separate shots were fired at each of the other officers, only one of the three convictions may stand. As for three of the other officers, no evidence showed defendant fired directly upon them.  (Courtesy of CCAP)

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