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State v. Maestas

Utah Supreme Court
652 P.2d 903 (1982)


On February 20, 1980, Clyde Maestas (defendant) robbed a bank and fled in a van. After Sergeant Cecil Throckmorton shot at the van in an attempt to disable it, Maestas leaned out of the van’s window and shot at Sergeant Throckmorton. Maestas was apprehended a few blocks away after crashing the van and was later charged with attempted first-degree murder for firing at Sergeant Throckmorton. At trial, the jury used the culpability standard specified in the elements of first-degree murder to find that Maestas had intentionally or knowingly acted when firing at Sergeant Throckmorton. The jury applied this standard to render a guilty verdict against Maestas for attempted first-degree murder. At sentencing, Maestas filed a motion to dismiss the verdict, claiming that under the common law, an attempted first-degree murder conviction required specific intent, which was a level of culpability higher than the intentional-or-knowing standard required for first-degree murder. The trial court agreed with Maestas and granted his motion to dismiss the charge, finding that there was insufficient evidence of specific intent to kill under the common law. The state appealed the trial court’s dismissal of the charge.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hall, C.J.)

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