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People v. Russell

Court of Appeals of New York
693 N.E.2d 193 (1998)


Facts

During the course of a gun battle between Russell (defendant) and two other individuals on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, Patrick Daly was shot and killed. The State of New York (plaintiff) charged all three engaged in the gun battle with second-degree murder. Each defendant argued that only one bullet killed Daly and it was not known whose gun fired the fatal shot. Ballistics tests were not able to confirm whose gun fired the fatal shot. The prosecution's theory was that each defendant acted with the mental culpability required for the commission of the crime and that each intentionally aided the individual who fired the fatal shot. The trial judge instructed the jury that if they found that the defendants joined in the venture and unnecessarily created a zone of danger, then each was responsible and that it made no difference which bullet murdered Daly. The jury convicted Russell and the other two defendants and each appealed. The appellate court affirmed the convictions and each defendant appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)

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