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State v. Bingham

Supreme Court of Washington
719 P.2d 109 (1986)


Facts

One night, Bingham (defendant) and Leslie Cook got off a bus together. The two did not know each other previously. They visited various places, and three days later, Cook’s body was found in a field near where the two had last been seen together. Bingham was charged with aggravated first-degree murder, an element of which is premeditation. Premeditation is defined as “the deliberate formation of and reflection upon the intent to take a human life.” At trial, the medical examiner explained that the cause of death was manual strangulation, which had been accomplished by applying pressure to Cook’s windpipe for three to five minutes. Cook also had bruises and bite marks on her body. The prosecutor’s theory was that Bingham started the act of sexual intercourse while Cook was alive and strangled her during the act. The prosecutor also told the jury that the murder could be considered premeditated if Bingham had formed the intent to kill when he began to strangle Cook and thought about that intent for the three to five minutes it took her to stop breathing. The jury found Bingham guilty of first-degree murder. Bingham appealed, arguing that a specific amount of time alone is not enough, by itself, to establish premeditation.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Goodloe, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Callow, J.)

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