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Name: People v. Poindexter
Case #: A110370
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/31/2006

Appellant was convicted of first degree murder. At trial, the evidence established that appellant and the victim were engaged in an altercation. Appellant told the victim to “stay here if you want to live,” and then retrieved a shotgun which he used to shoot the victim. The jury was instructed on two theories: lying in wait and premeditation/deliberation. On appeal, appellant contended that insufficient evidence supported first degree murder under the theory of lying in wait, and the trial court erred in instructing on that theory. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. The court agreed that a “substantial period of watching and waiting” is required for lying in wait first degree murder, but here there was sufficient evidence of that. The requisite period of lying in wait need not be for any particular length of time as long as it is sufficient to show that the defendant had a state of mind equivalent to premeditation or deliberation. Despite the unclear instructions given here on lying in wait, any possible instructional error was harmless. The court adequately instructed on premeditation and deliberation, and there was sufficient evidence under that theory to support the murder conviction as well.