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Name: People v. Adams
Case #: F053355
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/30/2008
Summary

The concurrent intent (a.k.a. kill zone) theory of attempted murder does not require knowledge of the presence of the alleged victims. It only requires that (1) the defendant targeted a primary victim by creating a zone of harm, and (2) the attempted murder victims were within that zone. Appellant was convicted of the murder of the decedent and the attempted murder of the decedent’s co-habitants based on setting fire to the house in which they lived. Appellant argued that her three attempted murder convictions should be reversed because she did not know the three victims lived in the house she set on fire. More specifically, she argued that the jury was improperly instructed on attempted murder by means of a kill zone because that theory implies knowledge of the presence of the alleged murder victims before a defendant can be convicted of their attempted murder, and this was not conveyed to the jury. The Court of Appeal held knowledge of the presence of the alleged murder victims is not required under this theory of liability. It imposes liability where a defendant intentionally creates a zone of harm in order to kill the intended person despite recognizing, or with acceptance of the fact, that a natural and probable consequence of that act would be that anyone present within the zone would or could die. The evidence at trial showed appellant intentionally created a zone of harm by setting fires at both the front and the back of the house. The fact there were three other people in the house at the time, whether or not appellant knew it, is enough to convict appellant of their attempted murders.