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State v. Thompson

Supreme Court of Arizona
65 P.3d 420 (2003)



Larry Thompson (defendant) and his wife, Roberta Palma, had a falling out. Thompson moved out of the couple’s home and threatened to kill Palma if she filed for divorce. Palma filed for divorce. A few days later, Thompson returned to his home and was seen dragging Palma by the hair from the front porch into the house. A recording of a 9-1-1 call from the house captured Palma screaming and four audible gunshots over a 27-second period. Police arrived and discovered Palma was dead. The State of Arizona (plaintiff) charged Thompson with first-degree murder. At trial, the state provided circumstantial evidence that Thompson reflected on the killing of Palma. Thompson claimed he killed his wife in the heat of passion. At the close of the evidence, the trial court instructed the jury on premeditation. The court instructed that the state was not required to prove that Thompson killed Palma after a period of reflection but that he merely had time in which to reflect before the killing occurred. The jury convicted Thompson, and he appealed. The court of appeals reversed and held that proof of actual reflection was required for a conviction. The Supreme Court of Arizona granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Berch, J.)


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