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People v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (Decker)

Supreme Court of California
157 P.3d 1017 (2007)


Facts

Ronald Decker (defendant) wanted to kill his sister Donna using an assassin. Decker researched professional assassins and contacted Russell Wafer for the job. Wafer informed Decker that he could not do the job, but agreed to contact another person on Decker’s behalf. Wafer instead contacted the police department and agreed to participate in a sting operation. Wafer set up a meeting with Decker and brought along Detective Wayne Holston, who was posing as an assassin. Decker told Holston that Donna owed Decker money and that Decker wanted her killed. Decker provided information regarding Donna’s identity, home, workplace, car, and daily routine. Decker explained that he could not do the job himself, because he would be a prime suspect. Decker also advised that if Donna’s friend, Hermine Bafiera, was with Donna at the time of the murder, Holston should kill Bafiera, too, to avoid having any witnesses. Holston agreed to do the job within the following week and arranged to meet Decker again to receive a down payment. At this second meeting, Decker gave Holston $5,000 and reassured Holston that he wished to proceed. Decker confirmed he was aware that once the parties left that meeting, there would be no way to change the plan. Decker was arrested and charged with (1) attempted murder of Donna and Hermine and (2) solicitation of Holston and Wafer to commit the murders. The trial court dismissed the attempted-murder charge based on insufficient evidence. The court of appeals reversed and reinstated the charge. Decker appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Baxter, J.)

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Dissent (Werdegar, J.)

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