State v. Wussler

In State v. Wussler, 139 Ariz. 428, 430, 679 P.2d 74, 76 (1984), the Arizona Supreme Court held that a jury must find a defendant not guilty of the charged or greater offense before considering a lesser offense. Wussler was convicted of first-degree murder. Id. at 429, 679 P.2d at 75. But the trial court had instructed the jury on the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and manslaughter, and the supreme court approved the following instruction: You will only consider the lesser offenses if you determine that the Defendant is not guilty of the greater offense. If you determine that the Defendant, for example is guilty of first-degree murder you stop right there. It is only if you determine that he is not guilty of first-degree murder that then you will consider second-degree. If you find him guilty of second degree murder you do not concern yourselves with manslaughter. Id. The court's decision was based on a perceived need to "provide for a more logical and orderly process for the guidance of the jury in its deliberations." Id. at 430, 679 P.2d at 76.