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Name: People v. Koback
Case #: E066674
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/17/2018

The evidence was sufficient to support defendant’s conviction for assault with a deadly weapon where he forcibly swung the ignition end of a car key, which he gripped in a tight fist, at the victim’s torso. After a customer saw Koback steal a set of car keys from a rental car company, employees pursued him. He told the employees to back off or he would harm them, then crossed the street. The employees followed him and confronted him again. Koback made a fist around the keys so that the “sharp” ignition portion of a key was sticking out between his knuckles, and lunged at one of the employees while swinging his fist with the key at the victim’s torso. Koback fled, but was ultimately arrested. A jury convicted him of assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, and resisting arrest. On appeal, he argued the evidence was insufficient to support his assault with a deadly weapon conviction because he did not use the car keys—an object that is not inherently deadly or dangerous—in a manner that was capable of causing and likely to result in serious bodily injury. Held: Affirmed. As used in Penal Code section 245, subdivision (a)(1), a “deadly weapon” is any object, instrument, or weapon which is used in such a manner as to be capable of producing and likely to produce, death or great bodily injury. A jury decides the factual question of whether an instrument that is not inherently dangerous qualifies as a deadly weapon. California courts have affirmed section 245, subdivision (a)(1) convictions where the deadly weapon used consisted of “some hard, sharp, pointy thing that was used only to threaten, and not actually used to stab.” (Quoting In re D.T. (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 693, 699.) Based on the record in this case, “a reasonable jury could conclude that defendant used the car key in such a way that it was capable of producing and likely to produce great bodily injury.” If wielded with sufficient force, a car key can puncture skin and cause significant injuries.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: