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State v. Turgeon

120 Wash. App. 1050 (2004)

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State v. Turgeon

Washington Court of Appeals

120 Wash. App. 1050 (2004)

Facts

Christopher Turgeon (defendant), who claimed to receive messages from God, formed a group called “the Gatekeepers.” A former member of the group, Dan Jess, called Turgeon a false prophet. Turgeon claimed God told him to kill Jess. Another Gatekeeper, Blaine Applin, claimed to have received the same message. Turgeon and Applin dressed in camouflage, wiped fingerprints off the bullets they planned to use, and drove from California to Jess’s home in Washington. Along the way, Turgeon asked God to make them take an unscheduled stop if killing Jess was not what God wanted. Instead, Turgeon and Applin saw several rainbows, leading them to believe that killing Jess was God’s will. After arriving at Jess’s home, Applin knocked on the front door. When Jess opened the door, Applin shot him several times, killing him. Turgeon remained in the car and acted as a lookout. The State of Washington (plaintiff) charged Turgeon and Applin with first-degree murder. During a joint trial, both men asserted an insanity defense, arguing that God commanded them to kill Jess. At the end of the evidence, the trial court instructed the jury on the defense of insanity, including a deific decree exception. A jury convicted Turgeon and Applin, and they separately appealed. The court of appeals affirmed each conviction. The Washington Supreme Court granted certiorari to review Turgeon’s appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Grosse, J.)

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