State v. Anderson

Citation428 P.2d 672,102 Ariz. 295
Decision Date08 June 1967
Docket NumberNo. 1685,1685
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellant, v. Alma Jean ANDERSON, Appellee.
CourtSupreme Court of Arizona

Darrell F. Smith, Atty. Gen., and Harold A. Beelar, County Atty., Gila County, for appellant.

Cavness, DeRose, Senner & Foster, by John W. Rood, Globe and Phoenix, for appellee.

UDALL, Justice.

The defendant Alma Jean Anderson was charged with murder in the first degree. During the trial of that charge, at the close of the evidence defense counsel moved for the exclusion of instructions on murder in the first and second degree for the reason that the record failed to show the presence of malice aforethought. That motion was denied.

The jury received instructions on murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and manslaughter. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of the charge of manslaughter. On the date set for sentencing, counsel for the defense moved for a new trial. The court granted the motion on the grounds that it was error as a matter of law for the trial judge to give instructions on murder in the first degree and for the further reason that it was reversible error for the County Attorney in closing argument to argue that the jury should place themselves in the position of the appellee. From this determination by the trial court the State has appealed. The case is before this court because the information charged murder in the first degree and is therefore reviewable directly in the Supreme Court, A.R.S. § 12--120.21, State v. Mileham, 1 Ariz.App. 67, 399 P.2d 688.

The facts out of which the criminal charges arose were as follows: On May 1, 1965, at approximately 8:00 p.m., the husband of the defendant arrived at their home in an intoxicated condition. He proceeded to the bathroom where his wife was dressing to leave for an evening of bowling. The husband demanded to know where the defendant was going. A quarrel ensued during which the husband struck the defendant several times, knocking her to the floor. At this time defendant shouted, 'Don't hit me again.' She then called to the baby sitter, also present in the house, asking her to summon the police. The baby sitter left and went to a neighbor's house to telephone the Sheriff's Department. The husband then left the house by the front door. The defendant then ran to a bedroom closet, secured a 30--30 rifle and loaded it. Then the defendant went into the living room and sat on the couch. Her husband stepped into the house through the living room door. As the deceased moved toward the defendant she picked up the gun and discharged it. A bullet fired from the gun struck the deceased in the lower abdomen and rendered him unconscious. Defendant then telephoned the operator and requested police assistance and an ambulance, telephoned the family doctor to request his presence at the hospital, and telephoned a friend to ask her if she would care for the defendant's son. The husband died in Gila County General Hospital that same evening.

The state argues that it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to grant the motion for a new trial basing its order on the finding that it was error as a matter of law to instruct the jury on murder in the first degree.

We find the applicable law on this point to be that if the evidence in the present case is sufficient to support some theory of the case by which the jury might have found the appellee guilty of murder in the first degree, the instruction was properly given. State v. Singleton, 66 Ariz. 49, 182 P.2d 920.

The State presented the theory that the defendant formed an intention to kill her husband and acted upon that intention with premeditation and deliberation. To support its case the State offered evidence to show the anger of the defendant at being struck by the deceased coupled with evidence that he had struck her on previous occasions; her conduct in rushing to a bedroom closet to secure a 30--30 rifle; the deliberate loading of that weapon and proceeding to the living room where she sat in wait for her husband to re-enter the house, at which time she shot him. The evidence demonstrates sufficient opportunity for premeditation and deliberation.

Granted the defendant took the witness stand to dispute the State's theory; however, the jury is the sole judge of the credibility of witness' testimony and need not accept the defendant's contested narrative of the events of that evening or her mental state at that time. Alvarado v. State, 63 Ariz. 511, 164 P.2d 460.

If it appears on an examination of the record that no mistake of law or fact occurred in the trial and that the evidence fully sustains the conviction, it is an abuse of discretion to grant a new trial. State v. Chase, 78 Ariz. 240, 278 P.2d 423. The trial court here did not grant a new trial for the reason that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury verdict of manslaughter, but instead partly because it felt that the instruction on first degree murder was not substantiated by the evidence. We feel that clearly it was proper as a matter of law to instruct the jury on murder in the first degree, for the State, we find, presented evidence of a validly equivocal set of circumstances from which murder in the first degree could justifiably be found. Therefore it is our determination that the trial court abused its discretion in granting a new trial on the basis of its erroneous conclusion as to the propriety of the first degree murder instruction.

The State further argues that it was an abuse of discretion...

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12 cases
  • State v. Riggs
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • April 11, 1996
    ...self-incrimination. Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, ----, 114 S.Ct. 2350, 2354, 129 L.Ed.2d 362 (1994); State v. Anderson, 102 Ariz. 295, 298, 428 P.2d 672, 675 (1967). It is rooted in the "distrust of self-deprecatory statements" and the desire to avoid putting a defendant into the "......
  • State v. Hunt
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • October 24, 1968
    ...added) Our Supreme Court has held that the 'Miranda' rule may be violated by interrogation in one's own home. State v. Anderson, 102 Ariz. 295, 428 P.2d 672 (1967). There, the defendant had shot her husband in their home and then asked someone else to call the police. Our Supreme Court 'In ......
  • State v. Inman
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • January 2, 1976
    ...had already focused upon the defendant as a suspect. Windsor v. United States, 389 F.2d 530 (5th Cir. 1968); State v. Anderson, 102 Ariz., 295, 428 P.2d 672 (1967); United States v. Bey, 385 F.Supp. 227 (W.D.Pa.1974); 1974); Agius v. United States, supra. In others and on other facts the de......
  • State v. Clemons
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • April 25, 1974
    ...for the jury. For a few of the most recent cases so holding, See State v. Ganter, 102 Ariz. 490, 433 P.2d 620 (1967); State v. Anderson, 102 Ariz. 295, 428 P.2d 572 (1967); State v. Spencer, 101 Ariz. 529, 421 P.2d 886 (1966); State v. Berry, 101 Ariz. 310, 419 P.2d 337 (1966); State v. Val......
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