SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1CR24-031 01/10/06

 

FIRST DEGREE MURDER (WILFUL, DELIBERATE AND PREMEDITATED KILLING)

 

13 V.S.A. 2301 (and common law)

The State has charged (Def)_______________ with first degree murder, as follows:

[Read the charge.]

Every crime is made up of essential elements. Before (Def)_______________ can be found guilty of the charge, the State must have proven each of the essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, the essential elements are that on the date and at the place alleged,

(1) (Def)_______________;

(2) caused the death of (victim)_______________;

(3) the killing was unlawful;

(4) (Def)_______________s killing of (victim)_______________ was wilful;

(5) [his] [her] killing of (victim)_______________ was deliberate; and

(6) [his] [her] killing of (victim)_______________ was premeditated.

The first essential element is that (Def)_______________ is the person who committed the alleged acts.

The second essential element is that (Def)_______________ caused the death of (victim)_______________. The State must have proven that (Def)_______________s acts produced (victim)_______________s death in a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause. [An efficient intervening cause would be an unexpected, independent force that broke the connection between (Def)_______________s acts and (victim)_______________s death.] You must conclude that (victim)_______________s life ended by means other than natural causes, accident, or suicide. You must also conclude that, but for (Def)_______________s acts, (victim)_______________s death would not have occurred.

Here the State alleges that (Def)_______________ caused the death of (victim)_______________ by (specific acts)_________________________.

The third essential element is that the killing was unlawful. The term unlawful killing means that (victim)_______________ was killed without legal excuse or legal justification. Legal excuse or justification ordinarily refers to such things as self-defense or legal necessity. [A killing may be justified where a person acts in self-defense, or in defense of another, or in trying to stop another person attempting to commit certain violent felonies. Here, the State must have proven that (Def)_______________ did not act in self-defense, or in defense of another, or in trying to stop another person attempting to commit (felony)_______________ with force or violence.]

The fourth, fifth, and sixth essential elements require the State to have proven that (Def)_______________s killing of (victim)_______________ was wilful, deliberate, and premeditated. The mental state or intent with which a person does an act may be shown by the way in which he or she expresses it to others, or by his or her conduct. In determining (Def)_______________s mental state or intent, you should consider all of the surrounding facts and circumstances established by the evidence.

The fourth essential element is that (Def)_______________s killing of (victim)_______________ was wilful. A wilful act is one which is knowing and intentional. You may find that the killing was wilful if (Def)_______________ killed (victim)_______________ on purpose, and not accidentally, carelessly or unintentionally.

The fifth essential element is that (Def)_______________s killing of (victim)_______________ was deliberate. An act is deliberate if it is carefully considered. (Def)_______________ must not have acted out of sudden impulse, but rather after deliberating for a period of time, however long or short. Deliberation is the act of thinking about and considering the reasons for and against an act or course of conduct. A person may think about a killing over a period of months or over a period of seconds; either period of time may be enough. The issue is the extent and quality of the deliberation, not its duration. Also, it is not enough to show that (Def)_______________ had enough time to deliberate. The State must have proven that [he] [she] actually thought about killing (victim)_______________ before did it.

The last essential element is that (Def)_______________s killing of (victim)_______________ was premeditated. A killing is premeditated if the actor thinks about it and plans it for some period of time before acting. Premeditation differs from deliberation in that it involves planning how to do an act, in addition to thinking about whether or not to do it. No specific amount of time is required. As with deliberation, a person may plan a killing over a period of months or over a period of seconds; both may be premeditation. The issue is the extent and quality of the premeditation, not its duration. Again, it is not enough to show that there was enough time for premeditation. The State must have proven that (Def)_______________ actually thought about killing (victim)_______________, and planned it, before [he] [she] did it.

The State bears the burden of proving all of the essential elements. If the State has not proven each of the essential elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find (Def)_______________ not guilty of first degree murder. However, if the State has proven all of the essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you must return a verdict of guilty.