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Taylor v. Superior Court

Supreme Court of California
477 P.2d 131 (1970)


Linda West and her husband Jack West owned a liquor store. James Daniels entered the store and asked Mr. West for cigarettes. When Mr. West went behind the store counter to retrieve the cigarettes, Daniels’s accomplice John Smith also entered the store. Smith and Daniels approached the counter, drew guns, and told Mr. West to put all of the money from the cash register into a bag. Daniels repeatedly threatened Mr. West, stating that they would “execute” Mr. West if he failed to comply, and both Daniels and Smith appeared intense and agitated. Mrs. West was on a ladder in another part of the store, and when Smith and Daniels forced Mr. West onto the floor, Mrs. West drew the gun she was carrying and shot Smith. Smith turned and fired at Mrs. West, but missed. Mr. West drew a gun from beneath the counter and also shot Smith, while Mrs. West shot Daniels as he fled from the store. Smith died from the multiple gunshot wounds. Alvin Taylor (defendant) was driving the getaway car and was later arrested, as was Daniels. Daniels and Taylor were charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon against Mr. and Mrs. West, and with one count of murder for Smith’s death. Taylor moved to have the murder charge set aside, but the superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Court of California issued an alternative writ of prohibition to determine whether the murder charge could proceed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burke, J.)

Dissent (Peters, J.)

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