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Name: People v. Canizales
Case #: E054056
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/05/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 6/25/2014: S217860

“Kill Zone” instruction was proper in attempted murder case where gang members fired multiple shots into group with rival gang members, intending to kill one of them. Defendants, members of the Ramona Blocc gang, shot at rival gang members Pride and Bolden in a crowd. They were convicted of first degree murder and two counts of premeditated attempted murder. The jury found gun use allegations true and that the offenses were committed for the benefit of a gang. One issue on appeal challenged the trial court’s “kill zone” instruction as applied to the attempted murder of Bolden. Held: Affirmed. Under the kill zone theory, a defendant who shoots at a group of people may be guilty of attempted murder of everyone in the group, even if the defendant primarily targeted only one person. When the nature and scope of attack against the primary target create a zone of harm around the target, a factfinder may reasonable infer from the method employed that the defendant had a concurrent intent to kill other, nontargeted individuals. (People v. Bland (2002) 28 Cal.4th 313.) Here, there was sufficient evidence to support a kill zone instruction. The evidence showed one of the defendants fired five bullets into a group, intending to kill the primary target, Pride. The jury could reasonably infer that the defendant used a means of force to kill Pride that would inexorably result in the death of other victims within the zone of danger. It was for the jury to determine if there was a kill zone and whether Bolden was in it. The Court of Appeal disagreed with People v. McCloud (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 788, which held that the kill zone theory applies only if the defendant specifically intends that everyone in the kill zone die—the evidence must show that the defendant tried to kill a targeted individual “by killing everyone in the area in which the targeted individual was located.”