State v. Munoz

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-22-2015
  • Case #: A147842
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, P.J.; & Schuman, S.J.

In a murder trial, a defendant is not prejudiced by a trial court’s failure to provide a concurrence instruction when two alternative factual ways of proving the “causes” element of the crime exist.

Defendant was convicted for murder and appealed his conviction in 2013; this Court subsequently affirmed the conviction. The Oregon Supreme Court vacated and remanded this case to determine whether it was reversible error for a trial court to fail to give a concurrence instruction (an instruction notifying the jurors that they must concur as to whether Defendant was liable as a principal or accomplice in the convicted crime). Defendant and two co-defendants came across the victim and a friend; mistook the victim for a member of a rival gang, and proceeded to stab and beat the victim, leaving the victim to bleed to death. At trial, the State presented evidence and statements indicating Defendant as the individual who stabbed the victim; the State also presented other evidence that a co-defendant was responsible for the stabbing. Defendant and the other co-defendant used that evidence to place the blame on one another. The trial court refused to grant Defendant’s request to instruct the jury to determine whether Defendant was the principal or accomplice to the victim’s murder. On remand, the Court closely reviewed the record and the jury instruction, and determined that the failure to give a concurrence instruction was harmless error, as the jury found that Defendant had intended to cause the death of the victim. Affirmed.

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