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People v. Hecker

Supreme Court of California
42 P. 307 (1895)


Facts

Patrick Riley was a peddler who camped near Hecker’s (defendant) land. Riley’s two horses strayed away from his camp. Riley met Hecker and offered him a ten-dollar reward if Hecker could find the horses and return them to Riley. Hecker searched for and found the horses the next day and brought them back to Riley’s camp, but Riley was away. Hecker placed them in a neighboring barn, and claimed that he retained constructive possession of them with a lien against the promised reward. Hecker and Riley met later. After Riley became skeptical of Heckler for finding the horses so quickly, Riley accused Hecker of stealing the horses in the first place. Riley refused to pay the reward to Hecker. After they parted, Hecker decided to take back the horses to hold against the reward. Hecker armed himself, returned to the barn, told Riley to stop and that he was armed when Riley attempted to stop him, and took the one horse that was there. After returning to town, Hecker saw another man riding the second horse, and followed that man back to the barn when the man refused to turn the horse over to him. As they approached the barn, Riley came out and attempted to grab the second horse by the saddle. Hecker rode up and grappled with Riley over the second horse, and then drew his pistol and struck Riley over the head with it. Riley drew his pistol, and the two men began firing shots at each other. After a continuing exchange of gunfire, during which Hecker moved around the property, allegedly to get away, and Riley called to bystanders to give him another gun and more ammunition, Hecker shot and killed Riley. Hecker was convicted of second-degree murder. Hecker appealed, alleging that he had killed Riley in self-defense.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Henshaw, J.)

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