|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Criminal law Court system Judicial system Criminal justice|
Procedural History: Following the death of the boyfriend of his former girlfriend through carbon monoxide from the fire evidence showed that Tillman lit it. The court found Tillman guilty of the first-degree murder and sentenced him to death. Tillman filed a petition for a writ of habeas in the third district. This was addressed as an issue of merit, and the petition was denied on basis that there was no valid claim. Finally, Tillman petitioned a habeas corpus to help reclaim the claim back in court.
Facts of the Case
Tillman was convicted of killing his former girlfriend's new boyfriend, Mark Schoenfeld, in marks apartment. He sneaked to Mark in his apartment while asleep and hit him several times with a blunt ax. Tillman then set the mattress in Mark's bed on fire. The main course of death was the carbon monoxide poisoning produced by the fire. However, evidence showed that blows could have killed the patient independently. Cara Saga, who was then Tillman's girlfriend, was at the apartment during the murder. However, she received immunity to testify against Tillman. Tillman was sentenced to first-degree murder based on the totality of the evidence. However, there was no unanimity of Jurors preceding over the case, among other issues related to the case, as Tillman argued in his habeas corpus petition.
Elements of Crimes As Proved By the Prosecution
The prosecutor proved that the evidence, from both eyewitness and physical evidence to prove that Tillman committed the crime. The evidence showed the actus rues through the use of Cara Saga's evidence. According to Cara, who was in the house during the time of committing a crime, Tillman told her that he wants Mark dead, and she responded that he is gone. This showed that Tillman intentionally wanted Mark dead and was not forced to do it by anyone. Moreover, he hit him more than one time at the head; hence this assures the actus rues, and one cannot argue that the death was accidental. This also qualifies the crime to be considered as first-degree murder. Additionally, Tillman sneaked into the house while his victim Mark was asleep; this shows someone who had a prior plan of committing a crime. Generally, to execute his plan, he made various actions to see it work. Men rea is the other element of a crime that needs to be proved by the prosecutor. This simply implies a guilty mind (Levin, 2019). The prosecutor needs to prove through evidence that the defendant was a healthy state of mind when committing a crime. In some instances, when one is under the influence of strong drugs such as alcohol and ecstasy, then they can be considered to be in an unstable state of mind. Hence, in this case, they could be found not guilty under this circumstance. To prove this, prosecution clarified that the victim has never had any mental illness and was not under the influence of the drug. Moreover, people under the influence of drugs cannot plan execution and finally do it with ease.
Additionally, in the case of man rea, thoughts are also considered to be part of the criminal act. If Tillman only told Cara that he wishes Mark dead and does not do it, then the thought could not be used in court. However, after hitting him several times and leaving him in a room with a burning mattress, she thought about the issue. Therefore, combining thoughts with actions shows that Tillman was wrong in committing a crime. Generally, by providing the two incidences, the prosecution proved that there was concurrence of the victim (Lingbo, 2017). Therefore this showed that he was guilty in both the mind and the actions. Tillman wished for the death of Mark, and he killed.
Causation is an essential element of a crime that prosecution needs to prove in the court of law. The court needs to be assured that the actual harm would not have happened without the commitment of a crime. No other underlying issues were there to show that Mark would not have died without being attacked by Tillman. Though the evidence proved that bruises from the brunt axe would have killed him, they were also coursed by Tillman. The mattress was also set on fire by him. His last action resulted in the death of Mark; hence he is the course of everything. Therefore his actions are the causation of death.
Constitutional Protection Issue
One of the significant constitutional protection issues in the one related to immunity. Immunity was given to Cara so that she can testify against her former boyfriend. Constitutionally, immunity is given to someone in exchange for a particular information or details related to a specific crime. Without immunity, Cara could also be changed to aiding a crime or conspiracy. Complicity crimes happen when one works with the criminal to commit a crime and does not report it. She could also be treated as a criminal due to the failure of her duty to act. The constitution dictates that a duty to act is necessary when the person has a relationship such as parent-child, spouse, or employer and employee. Therefore Cara was obliged to act since Mark was her spouse. However, with immunity, all these charges are dropped, and she can walk free as much she provides the necessary information to help the prosecution.
The Claim by the Defense
The major issue on the defense was based on the claims of unfair conviction. He was convicted of first-degree murder, unjust conviction, burglary, and attempted burglary. The district attorney and the court moved to amend the information during the initial hearing. On his side, Tillman argued that the amendment was unconstitutional since it broadened the level of offense. Additionally, the court did not give him and his attorney time to prepare for the new case brought in court. Nevertheless, the constitution allows for amendment as much as there is no new case presented in the court. The movement made should not change the case but strengthen the prosecutor's case.
Additionally, the defense was against incorporating the murder with the commission of, attempting to commit burglary, Aggravated burglary, arson or aggravated arson. The defense argued that the only intent, in this case, was committing murder and nothing else. They argued that if this issue could be considered merit, then all in house murder could be treated as the capital offense. This would give the court unlimited freedom to impose the death penalty on every indoor murder. They further claimed there was no assurance the person was invited in the house by his then-girlfriend. Generally, Tillman wanted to separate the crimes against him, and he should be changed with the first-degree murder. However, the evidence indicated that he entered a house intending to commit a crime, and actually, he did it. A person committing burglary enters the house to commit a crime and hurts people in the house. Proving the prosecution proved on the need to combine all these crimes.
Thirdly Tillman argued that the case related to arson was also not consequential. He claimed that the burning of mattress was incidentally aimed at burning the corpse; therefore, arson cases do not stand. On the other hand, the prosecutor argued that the destruction of one's property is arson. Hence, Tillman wanted to, and he did the act of burning the mattress. Therefore this is arson and should be changed with the commitment of a crime. Generally, the intentional destruction of one's property is arson. The mattress was not Tillman's, but his victim owned it.
Furthermore, the defense was against the unanimity on the jury. Under the constitution, the court must be unanimous for the cases related to first-degree murder in case of an appeal. In case of disputes or the jury's differing, then the case should not stand in the court of appeal. Generally, the jury should be beyond a reasonable doubt that Tillman murdered Mark and acted intentionally and knowingly. Moreover, he intendedly wanted to cause bodily harm to mark blows that were Cleary threatening to human life. Finally, commissioning or attempting to commit burglary, arson, or aggravated arson resulted in the victim's death in question. In this case, if Juries are asked these questions and believe in the evidence's totality, they hand the right to convict the offender. On the other hand, if the evidence fails to assure the totality, then it is there obligation to find the defendant not guilty. Other issues provided be the difference included effective assistance by the council.
The judge denied Tillman's petition on habeas copious. By doing so, they indicated that there was a totality of the evidence. The petition was simplified in such that the defendant entered the victim; hence he committed burglary. Additionally, he coursed harm to the victim with a weapon, and by doing so, he committed another crime, which is arson. Arson is associated with touching the mattress. Combining these crimes were consequential for someone to be sentenced to death. One the other hand, if the court considered the offense as the first-degree murder only, then there were high possibilities that Tillman could not have been sentenced to death. Generally, other cases aggravated the level of crime to a capital offense, resulting in more extreme punishment.
The court came up with the decision after refuting several claims presented by Tillman. To begin with, Tillman argued that there was ineffective assistance from the council. However, the court argued that to clear the reason for the council's ineffective assistance, the defendant must prove the council performance failed below a certain level of performance. On his side, the defendant was unable to show this. On the other hand, the court did not believe that the council's higher standard level is warranted. Additionally, the court claimed that federal courts do not necessarily demand unanimity in the state case on the need for unanimity. On the other hand, Utah's court does not require consensus in all cases of the law. Therefore the petition is insignificant. Thirdly on the sufficiency of the evidence about the criminal activity, the court claimed that there was sufficient evidence. He did all the associated crimes, and they call for the resultant punishment. The eye witness information proved all. Generally, with all these, the court argued that the petition is not adequate for the habeas corpus.
Based on the information provided by the court integrated both state and federal laws to help mitigate the habeas corpus case. For example, the federal government ignored the need for the unanimity of the jury. Additionally, to make the petitioner win, the court opted for the federal government to be unanimous. They also used other constitution power, such as immunity, to show the evidence of the client. The information on the case was mainly based on the totality of the eye witness, who was also the defendant's girlfriend. The fact that the defendant committed a crime by incorporating other offenses such as burglary makes him be subjected to laws related to these regal procedures. Generally, the court sees it impossible for one to be prosecuted by each case on an individual.
As a judge, I would be allowed for Tillman's petition based on some instances, such as the totality of the evidence. Based on the evidence provided, there is a need for clarification by the petition on the need for immunity. There were only two people who knew about the crime Tillman and the girlfriend; hence there should be additional evidence that it was Tillman who did it. Additionally, the death case has a significant weight, and the petitioner has the right to appeal in case they feel that the jury was biased.
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