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People v. James

Court of Appeal of California
74 Cal.Rptr.2d 7 (1998)


Facts

For 10 years, Kathey James (defendant) financially supported four children and two adults living in her mobile home by manufacturing methamphetamine (meth). One afternoon, during the manufacturing process, a volatile chemical caught fire, destroyed the mobile home, and killed three of the children. James was charged with second-degree murder, manufacturing meth, and conspiracy to manufacture meth. At trial, James testified that the manufacturing process had never before resulted in fire or any other incident. Additionally, James testified that she took precautions to ensure that the children were safe, such as by making the meth on a hot plate in a bathroom with the door locked. Although James admitted to using Coleman fuel, red phosphorus, and other hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process, she denied that the chemicals posed any danger to the people living in the mobile home. However, vapors from the chemicals could be ignited by any ignition source, such as a hot plate or stove. One of the children testified that James was making meth on a stove in the kitchen at the time the fire began. James was convicted on all charges. The jury expressly based the verdicts on second-degree felony murder. James appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Richli, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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