State v. Lopez–minjarez

Citation260 P.3d 439,350 Or. 576
Decision Date25 August 2011
Docket Number(CC C053660CR; CA A134227; SC S059045).
PartiesSTATE of Oregon, Petitioner on Review,v.Petronilo LOPEZ–MINJAREZ, Respondent on Review.
CourtSupreme Court of Oregon

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

On review from the Court of Appeals.*Greg Rios, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, argued the cause for petitioner on review. With him on the brief were John R. Kroger, Attorney General, and Mary H. Williams, Solicitor General.Shawn Wiley, Chief Deputy Defender, Office of Public Defense Services, Salem, argued the cause for respondent on review. With him on the brief was Peter Gartlan, Chief Defender.LINDER, J.

We allowed review in this case to consider whether a uniform criminal jury instruction on aiding and abetting correctly states Oregon law. 1 As did the Court of Appeals,2 we conclude that it does not. We further conclude, as did the Court of Appeals, that giving the instruction was prejudicial in this case. We differ, however, in our determination of which crimes were potentially affected by the instructional error. Consequently, we affirm in part and reverse in part the decision of the Court of Appeals, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court, and we remand for further proceedings.

The relevant facts were significantly disputed at trial. For purposes of our review, the facts can be briefly recounted. To assess whether the error in instructing the jury could have affected the jury's verdict on the various charges involved, however, it is important to describe both sides' respective evidence and theories of the case.

The charges in this case arose after defendant and his father drove in defendant's truck to the home of a man who was having an extra-marital affair with defendant's mother. When defendant and his father arrived at the man's home, no one was there. The victim—the man's teenaged son—arrived shortly thereafter. When victim arrived, defendant or his father, or the two of them together, pushed the victim into the house, where the victim was shot, but not killed. The victim was then forced into defendant's truck and taken to a remote area off a logging spur road, where he was killed. Police arrested defendant later that night at his home, after a neighbor reported seeing the victim abducted and gave police the license plate number of the truck in which he was taken. Defendant's father was never apprehended by authorities.

The state indicted defendant on multiple charges based on those essential events. Specifically, alleging that all the charges were part of the “same act and transaction,” the state charged defendant with:

• two counts of first-degree burglary, alleging that defendant entered and remained in the victim's home, a dwelling, with the intent to commit kidnapping (Count 12) and assault (Count 11), and caused physical injury to the victim;

• one count of second-degree assault, alleging that defendant physically injured the victim through the use of a deadly weapon;

• one count of first-degree kidnapping, alleging that defendant took the victim from one place to another, with the intent to interfere substantially with the victim's liberty and with the purpose of physically injuring the victim;

• two counts of felony murder, alleging that in the course of and in furtherance of defendant's commission of burglary in the first degree (Count 8) and kidnapping in the first degree (Count 7), a participant in the crime that defendant was committing caused the victim's death;

• three counts of aggravated murder, alleging that defendant intentionally killed the victim in an effort to conceal the commission of the crimes of burglary (Count 1), kidnapping (Count 5), and assault (Count 3);

• three counts of aggravated murder, alleging that defendant intentionally killed the victim to conceal his and his father's identities as the persons who committed the crimes of burglary (Count 2), kidnapping (Count 6), and assault (Count 3).3

At trial, the state's evidence and that presented by defendant sharply diverged. According to the state, defendant and his father jointly planned to injure or kill the man having the affair with defendant's mother (defendant's father's wife), and both were present throughout and committed the crimes involved. We need not recount in detail the state's evidence, which consisted of physical and circumstantial evidence, the observations of eyewitnesses, and statements that defendant made to police. It suffices to observe that, from the state's evidence, the jury could have concluded that defendant was personally present during all the events that culminated in the victim's death— e.g., the planning of the confrontation with the victim's father, the entry into the home, the initial shooting of the victim, the victim's abduction to a distinctive remote area (one that defendant may have frequented for target shooting), and the victim's murder at that remote area. What the state could not establish was who personally pulled the trigger and shot the victim, either in the home, where the victim was shot and wounded, or at the remote area, where he was shot and killed. Under the state's theory, however, it did not matter whether defendant or his father was the person who did so. Either way, defendant was sufficiently involved to be criminally responsible for the resulting crimes.

Defendant contradicted the state's evidence, and its theory of the case, principally through his own testimony. According to defendant, he went with his father on the night in question, believing that his father wanted to talk to the wife of the man who was having an affair with his mother, because his father saw himself and the wife as “victims” of the affair. According to defendant, he did not know that his father was armed until his father got out of the truck to confront the victim, at which point the father forced the victim into the house at gunpoint. Defendant claimed that he never entered the house, and that only his father went inside. Instead, defendant waited outside the garage and, after hearing a gunshot, stepped into the garage to try to look into the house to determine if his father had killed the victim. Defendant claimed that, after the gunshot, his father forced the victim outside and into defendant's truck. Defendant acknowledged that he drove the truck away, while his father held the victim at gunpoint. He also acknowledged that he noticed the truck running low on gas, told his father they needed to get gas, let his father get out of the truck with the victim to hide at a remote construction site while he refueled the truck, and then returned to the construction site, where his father again forced the victim back into the truck and defendant resumed driving with the victim inside, held against his will.

Defendant denied, however, driving to the remote area where the victim was killed. Instead, defendant claimed that he drove to a particular McDonald's restaurant, where he remained while his father took over the driving and left with the victim. According to defendant, his father returned in the truck about 30 to 40 minutes later, without the victim. To rebut defendant's testimony that he was at the McDonald's restaurant when the victim was killed, the state presented evidence that it was not possible for someone to drive the distance between that McDonald's restaurant and where the victim was found in the time that defendant claimed he waited there for his father. The state also presented evidence that the several employees working at the McDonald's that night had not seen defendant, and that, because it was a slow night, they likely would have remembered him had he been there for 30 to 40 minutes even if, as he claimed, he was in the bathroom during much of that time.

In instructing the jury, the trial court identified the elements of each of the substantive crimes with which defendant was charged. The trial court then further instructed the jury, using the pertinent uniform criminal jury instructions, on accomplice liability. Specifically, the trial court first advised the jury that a person is criminally liable for a crime, regardless of whether the person is present when the crime is committed, if the person, with the requisite intent, “aids and abets” in committing a crime:

“A person who is involved in committing a crime may be charged and convicted of that crime if, with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the crime[,] that person aids and abets someone in committing the crime. Under these circumstances, it is not necessary for that person actually to be personally present at the time and place of the commission of the crime.”

UCrJI 1052. After that instruction, the trial court informed the jury what it means to “aid and abet” in the commission of a crime:

“A person aids and abets another person in the commission of a crime if the person, one, with the intent to promote or make easier the commission of the crime; two, encourages, procures, advises or assists by act or advice the planning or commission of the crime.”

UCrJI 1053. Next, the trial court gave the uniform instruction at issue here:

“A person who aids or abets another in committing a crime * * * is also criminally responsible for any act or other crime that [was] committed as a natural and probable consequence of the planning, preparation, or commission of the intended crime.”

11 UCrJI 1051.

As we noted at the outset, we allowed review in this case to consider whether the last of those three instructions is a correct statement of Oregon law. Defendant argues that it is not. The Court of Appeals agreed. State v. Lopez–Minjarez, 236 Or.App. 270, 287, 237 P.3d 223, adh'd to on recons., 237 Or.App. 688, 240 P.3d 753 (2010). On review, the state concedes that, at least in isolation, the instruction incorrectly states the principles of accomplice liability under Oregon law. As we will explain, we, too, agree.

The analysis of why the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
58 cases
  • Purdy v. Deere & Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • 17 Abril 2014
    ...is, “some” or a “significant” likelihood that the error influenced the result—will suffice for reversal. See State v. Lopez–Minjarez, 350 Or. 576, 587, 260 P.3d 439 (2011) (because “erroneous instruction had no significant likelihood of affecting the jury's verdict” on a charge, it did not ......
  • State v. McAnulty, CC 200927457
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • 30 Octubre 2014
    ...was “little likelihood” that the error affected the jury's verdict. Davis, 336 Or. at 32, 77 P.3d 1111 ; see also State v. Lopez–Minjarez, 350 Or. 576, 587, 260 P.3d 439 (2011) (concluding “that the erroneous 338 P.3d 672instruction had no significant likelihood of affecting the jury's verd......
  • State v. McAnulty, CC 200927457
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • 30 Octubre 2014
    ...was "little likelihood" that the error affected the jury's verdict. Davis, 336 Or. at 32, 77 P.3d 1111 ; see also State v. Lopez–Minjarez, 350 Or. 576, 587, 260 P.3d 439 (2011) (concluding "that the erroneous 338 P.3d 672 instruction had no significant likelihood of affecting the jury's ver......
  • Hale v. Belleque, 04C13562
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • 20 Marzo 2013
    ...of theories and intents.” After the post-conviction court entered its judgment in 2009, the Supreme Court decided State v. Lopez–Minjarez, 350 Or. 576, 260 P.3d 439 (2011). Petitioner has filed a memorandum of additional authorities, arguing that Lopez–Minjarez requires reversal of petition......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • § 30.09 MODEL PENAL CODE
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Law (CAP) 2018 Title Chapter 30 Liability For the Acts of Others
    • Invalid date
    .... See § 30.05[B][4], supra.[186] . American Law Institute, Comment to § 2.06 at 311 n.37.[187] . E.g., State v. Lopez-Minjares, 260 P.3d 439, 443 (Or. 2011) (the common law "natural and probable consequences" doctrine is not recognized by the state's complicity statute, which is modeled on ......
  • § 30.09 Model Penal Code
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Law (CAP) 2022 Title Chapter 30 Liability for the Acts of Others
    • Invalid date
    ...rules.[185] See § 30.05[B][4], supra.[186] American Law Institute, Comment to § 2.06 at 311 n.37.[187] E.g., State v. Lopez-Minjares, 260 P.3d 439, 443 (Or. 2011) (the common law "natural and probable consequences" doctrine is not recognized by the state's complicity statute, which is model......
  • TABLE OF CASES
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Law (CAP) 2018 Title Table of Cases
    • Invalid date
    ...(Idaho Ct. App. 1995), 346 Lopez, United States v., 662 F. Supp. 1083 (N.D. Cal. 1987), 198, 208, 288, 293, 456 Lopez-Minjares, State v., 260 P.3d 439 (Or. 2011), 470 Louis, State v., 384 P.3d 1 (Kan. 2016), 369 Louis, State v., 384 P.3d 1 (Kan. 2016), 484 Love, People v., 111 Cal. App. 3d ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT