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State v. Fisher
Utah Supreme Court
680 P.2d 35 (1984)
Howard Fisher (defendant) believed that his wife, Zacoma, was having an affair with a prostitute, Jolene Scott, and that the affair was the reason Zacoma had left him. Fisher confronted Scott about his wife, and a fight ensued. Fisher strangled Scott during the fight and killed her. Fisher confessed to strangling Scott but claimed that he had only intended to make Scott fall unconscious through the strangulation, not to kill her. Fisher was charged with three variations of second-degree murder based on an intent to kill, an intent to cause serious bodily harm, or actions showing a depraved indifference to human life. The prosecution (plaintiff), in its opening statement, presented a description of evidence about Fisher’s intention to kill Scott that a subpoenaed witness was to present. The witness eventually refused to testify, however, after receiving threats from fellow inmates in the jail where he was incarcerated, and this evidence about Fisher’s intent to kill Scott was never presented at trial. Fisher was convicted and appealed. On appeal Fisher alleged that he was denied a fair trial because the prosecution’s opening statement included this reference to evidence showing an intent to kill that was never in fact presented to the jury.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Oaks, J.)
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