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People v. Dillon

Supreme Court of California
668 P.2d 697 (1983)


Norman Dillon was a 17-year-old high school student who lived near a remote farm where Dennis Johnson and his brother grew marijuana. During attempts to approach the farm in the hopes of stealing some marijuana, Dillon encountered Johnson, who was armed with a shotgun and threatened to shoot him if he caught Dillon near the property again. Dillon and six other classmates later planned an elaborate attempt to rob the farm. Dillon and his classmates went to the farm armed with shotguns and other weapons and equipped with maps, masks, and rope. Dillon was armed with his own .22-caliber semi-automatic hunting rifle. The boys split up and approached the farm, but saw one of the Johnson brothers guarding the farm. After a few hours of indecision, Dillon and the others heard two shotgun blasts, which they believed had been fired by Johnson, but in fact had been accidentally fired by another boy. They then saw Johnson approaching them armed with a shotgun that was pointed in their direction. Dillon panicked and fired nine rapid shots, killing Johnson. Dillon was charged and convicted of first-degree felony murder and attempted robbery and was given the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Dillon appealed the conviction.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Mosk, J.)



Concurrence (Bird, C.J.)

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