San Diego State University Homicide Discussion

San Diego State University Homicide Discussion


This week we’re talking about murder.  There are four different types of murder as explained in our video for this week. They include 1st degree, 2nd degree, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

First, brief explain/define each of the four types of homicide.

All crimes consist of “elements.”  The elements of the crime are found by breaking down the crime’s definition from the Penal Code.

For instance, in a petty theft, the CA Penal Code defines this crime as “the taking of another’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner thereof.”  If we break that down, we have the following elements:

1.  The taking (the defendant must actually take or move the property)

2.  Another person’s property (the property must belong to someone else)

3.  With the intent to permanently deprive (they don’t intent on giving it back, they aren’t just borrowing it or walking out of the store with it because they simply forgot to pay)

The prosecutor must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  

So let’s talk about 1st degree homicide.  

Look up the California Penal Code definition of homicide (it’s section 187).  

Then write the definition.  Now break the definition into its parts, into its elements.  What are the 4 elements of first degree murder?

Finally, read the article on this case from San Diego. to an external site.

What evidence did the prosecutors use in the original case to prove 1st degree homicide?  In other words, for each element of murder, list the facts that the prosecutor used to prove that element.  

Lastly, tell us your impressions of this case.  This woman was convicted of this murder, spent 20 years in prison, and now the case was dismissed.  Why do you think prosecutors dismissed the case?  Were there elements of the crime that they could no longer prove?