408 N.W.2d 71 (Mich.App. 1987), 82627, People v. Kvam

Docket Nº:Docket No. 82627.
Citation:408 N.W.2d 71, 160 Mich.App. 189
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Michael Albert KVAM, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:[160 Mich.App. 191] Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Causo, Sol. Gen., L. Brooks Patterson, Pros. Atty., Robert C. Williams, Chief, Appellate Div., and Robert F. Davisson, Asst. Pros. Atty., for the People. John D. Lazar, Royal Oak, for defendant on appeal.
Judge Panel:[160 Mich.App. 192] Before WALSH, P.J., and SULLIVAN and BAGULEY, [*] JJ.
Case Date:March 20, 1987
Court:Court of Appeals of Michigan
 
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Page 71

408 N.W.2d 71 (Mich.App. 1987)

160 Mich.App. 189

PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Michael Albert KVAM, Defendant-Appellant.

Docket No. 82627.

Court of Appeals of Michigan.

March 20, 1987

Page 72

Submitted May 12, 1986.

Released for Publication July 8, 1987.

Page 73

[160 Mich.App. 191] Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Causo, Sol. Gen., L. Brooks Patterson, Pros. Atty., Robert C. Williams, Chief, Appellate Div., and Robert F. Davisson, Asst. Pros. Atty., for the People.

John D. Lazar, Royal Oak, for defendant on appeal.

[160 Mich.App. 192] Before WALSH, P.J., and SULLIVAN and BAGULEY, [*] JJ.

PER CURIAM.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, M.C.L. Sec. 750.316; M.S.A. Sec. 28.548. Defendant was tried simultaneously with his co-felon, William Fischer, but before separate juries. Defendant was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment. Defendant appeals as of right, raising numerous claims of error. We affirm defendant's convictions, but remand for correction of sentence.

In the early morning hours of July 7, 1984, Orbin Bray, Jr. returned to his home where he discovered the bodies of his wife, JoAnn Bray, his niece, fifteen-year-old Wendy Lovell, and his daughter, nine-year-old Chastity Bray. Each of victims had been repeatedly stabbed. Bray identified defendants Kvam and Fischer as suspects, and the defendants were arrested later that day. Defendant subsequently made multiple statements concerning the homicides. Although the statements varied in detail, all of the statements indicated that Kvam and Fischer were responsible for the three homicides.

On appeal, defendant first claims that there was insufficient evidence of premeditation aliunde his statements to bind him over on charges of first-degree murder. Defendant argues that the corpus delicti of each element of the crime must be established by evidence aliunde the confession of the accused. Defendant claims that the only evidence of premeditation presented at the preliminary examination was his statements; thus, the district court judge improperly bound him over on charges of first-degree murder and the circuit court erred in denying his motion to quash the information.

[160 Mich.App. 193] In People v. Williams, 422 Mich. 381, 391-392, 373 N.W.2d 567 (1985), our Supreme Court rejected this Court's position that the corpus delicti rule requires that each element of a crime must be established by evidence other than the accused's own statements. The Court specifically held "that the corpus delicti of first-degree premeditated murder consists of two elements: the death of the victim and some criminal agency as the cause." 422 Mich. 392, 373 N.W.2d 567.

Defendant does not dispute that independent evidence established the deaths of the victims or that their deaths were due to homicide. We find that the prosecutor complied with the corpus delicti rule in this instance. Defendant was properly bound over for trial on charges of first-degree murder.

Defendant next argues that the circuit court erred by submitting the question of premeditation to the jury because there was insufficient evidence of premeditation as a matter of law. We disagree. Premeditation and deliberation may be inferred from the weapons used, the location of the wounds inflicted, the circumstances surrounding the killing, the previous relationship between the killer and the victim, and the actions of the killer before and after the crime. People v. Bauman, 332 Mich. 198, 205, 50 N.W.2d 757 (1952); People v. Brown, 137 Mich.App. 396, 407, 358 N.W.2d 592 (1984). The evidence presented here indicated that the defendant knew the victims and had reason to seek revenge

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on the Bray family. Defendant's statements and actions before the homicides indicated that Kvam and Fischer intended to do harm. There was evidence that defendants went to Fischer's house in order to obtain Kvam's knife before going to the Bray home. The weapons used were inherently dangerous instruments, and the wounds [160 Mich.App. 194] inflicted upon the victims were primarily directed toward vital organs. Further Kvam and Fischer's actions after the homicides indicated a deliberate and organized gathering and disposal of evidence which would connect them to the crime. We find that there was ample evidence from which the jury could reasonably infer that the element of premeditation had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See People v. Irby, 129 Mich.App. 306, 322-323, 342 N.W.2d 303 (1983). Further, these circumstances were not negated, as a matter of law, by the evidence presented by defendant concerning diminished capacity. The diminished capacity defense is merely one aspect of whether a defendant has the requisite intent. People v. Jones, 151 Mich.App. 1, 5-6, 390 N.W.2d 189 (1986). The trial court did not err in submitting the question of premeditation to the jury.

Defendant also argues that the trial court erred by admitting defendant's July 10, 1984, statement into evidence. Defendant requested court appointed counsel at his arraignment on July 9, 1984, and thus invoked his Sixth...

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