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People v. Crane

Illinois Supreme Court
585 N.E.2d 99 (1991)


David Crane (defendant) was arrested on traffic violations in New Mexico, but because there was a notice of his probation violation and an outstanding warrant for him in relation to the murder of Robert Gahan in Illinois, he was arrested and held there. Thereafter, Illinois detectives Roger Costello and Larry Schultz interviewed Crane in New Mexico about his relationship to Gahan. Crane told the detectives that he had been hitchhiking and that Gahan gave him a ride. While driving, Crane said Gahan asked him if he wanted to smoke some marijuana. Crane said he did. Crane directed Gahan to a secluded area where they parked, got out, and began smoking the marijuana. Thereafter, Gahan began to choke Crane. Crane reacted by repeatedly striking Gahan with numchucks until he fell to the ground. Thinking Gahan was dead Crane took the car to a friend’s house and told him what had happened. Crane’s friend told him to destroy the evidence. Crane returned to where Gahan was, poured gasoline over him, and lit him on fire. Crane later learned that Gahan may not have been dead at the time of the burning. Crane was charged with two counts of murder. Both counts alleged that Crane beat and burned Gahan, thereby causing his death. Count I charged that Crane acted “with intent to kill or do great bodily harm.” Count II charged that Crane acted “knowing such acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm.” At trial, Crane requested that the jury be instructed on self defense as well his primary theory of defense, mistake of fact. The trial court instructed the jury on self defense but refused to give the requested mistake of fact instruction. Crane was convicted and he appealed. The appellate court reversed the conviction and the Illinois Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Heiple, J.)

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