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People v. Anderson

Supreme Court of California
252 P.3d 968 (2011)


Facts

Paul Anderson (defendant) was a methamphetamine addict who entered an apartment carport with the intent of stealing a car. Anderson successfully entered Pamela Thompson’s car, started it, and attempted to drive out of the carport, but because the carport’s gate did not open automatically, Anderson backed into a spot to wait for an entering car to trigger the gate to open. Thompson returned to the carport, discovered her car had been stolen, and walked around attempting to find it. After an entering car came through the gate into the carport, Anderson accelerated toward the gate in an attempt to get through the gate before it closed again. Thompson was walking in front of the gate as Anderson drove through it, and he struck and killed her. Anderson claimed that hitting her was an accident and that he had not intended to hit, injure, or frighten her. Anderson was charged and convicted of first-degree felony murder based on robbery, robbery, and receipt of stolen property. Anderson appealed, alleging that the trial court had erred by failing to issue a sua sponte instruction to the jury on a theory of accident as a defense to robbery. The court of appeal sustained Anderson’s assertion, and the prosecution appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)

Concurrence (Kennard, J.)

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