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United States v. Thomas

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
664 F.3d 217 (2011)


Facts

The United States government (plaintiff) prosecuted Shanon Patrick Thomas (defendant) for first-degree murder, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1111, 113, and 1153. The trial evidence established that Thomas and his girlfriend, Marissa Mackey, suspected Thomas's former girlfriend and Mackey's neighbor, Dawn Starlin, of having vandalized Mackey's house. Justina Tuttle and Waylon Wabasha testified that, before leaving with Thomas and Mackey to visit a bar, Thomas left Mackey's house and returned shortly afterward with a gun, which Thomas stored at Mackey's house. Thomas's sister and her boyfriend testified that Thomas took the gun from their house. Tuttle and Wabasha testified that when they, Thomas, and Mackey returned to Mackey's house from the bar hours later, Thomas left the others and went outside. Thomas returned a few minutes later and told the group that he had shot Starlin several times and killed her. Thomas testified that he picked up his gun and headed toward Starlin's yard after she began taunting him about his relationship with Mackey. Starlin was unarmed. Thomas said he did not mean to shoot Starlin, but acted out of rage enkindled by Starlin's taunts. The jury returned a guilty verdict. Thomas appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, contending that the government failed to prove the premeditation element of first-degree murder and that the trial judge erred in denying Thomas's motion for judgment of acquittal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wollman, J.)

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