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State v. Dent

Washington Supreme Court
869 P.2d 392 (1994)


Facts

Roland C. Dent (defendant) had a relationship with Ann Powell while he was on parole. Powell told Dent’s parole officer that Dent had assaulted her, and Dent’s parole was revoked. Dent was sent to jail and met Carlos Balcinde (defendant). While in jail, Dent and Balcinde discussed killing Powell. Dent was transferred to another jail and began using his current girlfriend, Joyful Tryon, to communicate with Balcinde. Dent asked Tryon to forward letters to Balcinde, give Balcinde a handgun owned by Tryon, after removing the serial number and reporting it stolen, set aside $300 to $400 to pay Balcinde, pick up Balcinde when he was released, show Balcinde a video of Powell, and show Balcinde where Powell lived. Dent told Tryon that the gun was going to be used for Powell. Tryon’s sons convinced Tryon to tell the police about the planned murder. During a recorded call, Dent told Tryon that Powell had to be killed because the parole board would never let him out of jail if there was someone who was afraid of Dent. A police officer posed as Tryon and picked Balcinde up when he was released from jail. Balcinde confirmed the plan with the officer and was arrested when he reached for the money. The State of Washington (plaintiff) charged Dent and Balcinde with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Dent and Balcinde requested the trial court to instruct the jury that the substantial-step element of conspiracy requires more than mere preparation. The trial court denied the request and instructed the jury that the substantial-step element requires conduct that stongly indicates a criminal purpose. Dent and Balcinde were convicted and have appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brachtenbach, J.)

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