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United States v. Shaw

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
701 F.2d 367 (1983)


The United States government (plaintiff) prosecuted Ronald Glen Shaw (defendant) for the first-degree murder of Terrell Johnson, a child, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1111. Terrell was shot while riding in a car with his mother, Linda Johnson, and her fiancé Kenneth Brinkley. At trial, Shaw testified that on Christmas night he drove to the Old Trace rest area along a deserted highway to hunt deer from his pickup truck with an illegal rifle. After shooting a deer, Shaw left to retrieve its body, heard a car approach, slipped, fell, and dropped his rifle, which accidentally discharged, fatally wounding Terrell. Brinkley and Johnson testified that although they immediately left the scene of Terrell's shooting to seek medical care for the boy, they were sure the shooting did not take place at Old Trace, but at the Ballard Creek rest area, near the site of Brinkley's recent truck accident. A couple named Avery testified that earlier on Christmas night they passed a pickup truck like Shaw's parked at Ballard Creek, and saw a man aiming a rifle through the truck's window. A park ranger testified that he saw a truck like Shaw's parked at Ballard Creek on the nights of December 22 and December 23. Police testified that the number of bullets found did not corroborate Shaw's deer-hunting story, that a "mashed down area" showed signs of having been used by someone lying in wait to shoot at a passing car, and that Shaw had changed his story several times. The jury convicted Shaw, who appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, contending that the government failed to prove that the fatal shooting was premeditated.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Williams, J.)

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