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People v. Kauffman

Supreme Court of California
92 P. 861 (1907)


Facts

William Kauffman (defendant) joined five other men in conspiring to rob a safe at a cemetery. Although the other five men were all armed with revolvers, Kauffman was not armed but carried a small bottle of nitroglycerin. They also had other burglary tools distributed between them. When the six men arrived at the cemetery, they found it guarded and decided to abort the robbery. As they walked back towards their lodging, they divided into two groups to look less conspicuous. One of the other men suggested that they burglarize another location but Kauffman and some of the others objected. After again splitting off, Kauffman and two of the others were walking ahead of the remaining three men when they heard a shout and saw two of the men running toward them. One of the fleeing men fired a shot back in the direction they had come from and fled over a fence, but another approached Kauffman’s group and stated that he was not going to run and had a gun. A policeman approached them and asked which of the men had the gun. At that point the man who had joined Kauffman’s group shot the policeman, who later died from his wounds. Kauffman and the five other men were jointly indicted for murder. In a separate trial, Kauffman was convicted of second-degree murder. Kauffman’s motion for a new trial was denied, and he appealed, alleging that the evidence was insufficient to justify a guilty verdict.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sloss, J.)

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