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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: B135269
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 07/25/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 11/15/00
Summary

The prosecution here proceeded against appellant on two theories of second degree murder: second degree felony murder predicated on a violation of Vehicle Code section 2800.3, evasion of a police officer which proximately causes death or bodily injury, and implied malice murder. The jury was instructed that it need not agree on the theory of murder. The prosecutor erroneously argued to the jury that the killing could be accidental or intentional, and that he did not have to prove any intent as to the injury or death that was caused. However, the Court of Appeal held that an evasion of a peace officer which causes death or serious bodily injury cannot support a charge of felony murder because it does not require that the defendant specifically intend to cause a death or serious bodily injury. Because of the substantial rights involved here, the instructional error is subject to review, even if the objections were inadequate. Applying the harmless error rule of Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, 36, the court held that the misinstruction and misleading argument on felony-murder theory constituted prejudicial error. The second degree murder conviction was reversed and remanded.