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Name: People v. Vasquez
Case #: B175639
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 02/15/2006

Appellant invited his cousin to a party, and then invited him into the alley to confront him about having assaulted his younger brother years earlier. The cousin reacted by lunging at appellant and choking him. Appellant shot his cousin. He was charged with first degree murder, and convicted of second degree murder. The trial court denied appellant’s request to instruct the jury on imperfect self-defense, finding that appellant did not believe he was in imminent peril from an attack by his cousin, and that appellant had set up the situation by luring the cousin to an alley to confront him. The appellate court reversed and remanded. Neither of the court’s reasons for its refusal to instruct were proper. It was for the jury to decide appellant’s state of mind during the attack. Further, imperfect self-defense is available even when the defendant sets in motion the chain of events leading to the attack by the victim. A jury could have reasonably concluded that appellant actually believed his life to be in danger.