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People v. Van Ronk

California Court of Appeal, Third District
217 Cal.Rptr. 581 (1985)


Van Ronk (defendant) went to the apartment of James Gravelle’s sister, Ruth, to purchase a “pound of pot.” When he arrived, Gravelle informed Van Ronk that he had not been able to obtain the marijuana to sell to him. Van Ronk told James he would return to the apartment around noon. Around noon, Van Ronk returned to Ruth’s apartment, along with a woman named Cindy. They stayed there for about two hours while James unsuccessfully attempted to locate the marijuana to sell. At some point, James and Cindy left the apartment to go to the store, during which time Van Ronk told Ruth he thought he was being cheated. When James and Cindy returned, Van Ronk said he wanted to go, but Cindy refused to go with him. After James and Van Ronk exchanged heated words, Van Ronk pulled out a gun and said, “I should kill you.” James responded by saying, “Get off.” Van Ronk then fired the gun, hitting James three times. Van Ronk then shot at Cindy but missed and also fired an errant shot at Ruth as she jumped into the kitchen. Van Ronk then demanded Ruth come out and told her he was going to shoot her. Ruth begged Van Ronk not to and he agreed if she gave him time to leave. Van Ronk then argued with Cindy over “the money” and then left after she told him where it was. Immediately thereafter, a friend of Ruth took James to the hospital where he was treated for critical gunshot wounds. Van Ronk was charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter. At trial, Van Ronk argued that he shot James in self defense, claiming that James likely had a weapon. Van Ronk was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Sparks, J.)

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