People v. Taylor, 2016 IL App (1st) 141251 (October). Episode 253 (Duration 6:57)
Remanded for new sentencing to see if a class 1, sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation, sentencing is appropriate for this attempted murder conviction.
Defendant was convicted of attempted 1st degree murder for shooting his girlfriend 3 times after she sideswiped a car his child was in.
Defendant was sentenced as a class X.
Attempt Murder Mitigation
However, at sentencing and on appeal he argued that he should be sentenced as a Class 1 offender pursuant to section 8-4(c)(1)(E) of the Criminal Code, which reads:
“[I]f the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence at sentencing that, at the time of the attempted murder, he or she was acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual whom the defendant endeavored to kill, or another, and, had the individual the defendant endeavored to kill died, the defendant would have negligently or accidentally caused that death, then the sentence for the attempted murder is the sentence for a Class 1 felony.”
This is analogous to second degree murder. In fact, the existence of second degree murder motivated this legislative mitigation.
“Accidental or Negligent”?
The trial court found this section inapplicable because it did not believe that had the victim died, Taylor’s conduct could have been described as accidental or negligent.
In other words, the trial court understood the statute to require Defendant to prove that he intentionally attempted to kill due to serious provocation, but that, had he been successful, the killing would have been deemed negligent or accidental.
This interpretation is incorrect.
Here, the statutory language clearly addresses two separate scenarios.
First, it addresses the scenario where the defendant attempts to kill the one who provoked him, and second, it addresses the “transferred intent” scenario where the defendant specifically intends to kill his provoker, but instead takes a substantial step towards killing another, whose death, had it occurred, would have been deemed negligent or accidental.
The trial court’s interpretation would make it impossible for a defendant convicted of attempted murder to obtain a reduction in classification based on provocation and render the statute meaningless.
Attempted murder requires a showing that a defendant had the specific intent to kill, which is fundamentally incompatible with the statutory language providing that if the defendant’s victim died, the death would have been deemed negligent or accidental.
Taylor’s interpretation of the statute as referring both to the situation where the defendant attempts to kill his provoker as well as the separate situation where the defendant negligently or accidentally acts against another in his attempt to kill his provoker better conforms to legislative intent.
Defendant’s actions stemmed from witnessing the victim drive her car at a speed of 30 to 35 miles per hour into the car carrying his daughter. He was indeed acting under a sudden and intense passion when he shot her. File was remanded for the trial court to determine if defendant was act sufficiently provocated under the law.