Vo v. Superior Court

In Vo v. Superior Court, 172 Ariz. 195, 200, 836 P.2d 408, 413 (App. 1992), the Court concluded that the legislature did not intend to include "fetus" within the definition of "person" as the latter term is used in Arizona's first degree murder statute. 172 Ariz. at 202, 836 P.2d at 415. The Court therefore held that the trial court should have dismissed murder charges against the defendants for the death of a fetus that occurred after one of the defendants shot the pregnant mother. See id. at 206, 836 P.2d at 419. The Court reasoned that, in enacting the statute, the legislature had not expressed an intent to deviate from the common law principle that only persons "born alive" could be the victims of homicide. See id. at 200, 836 P.2d at 413. The Court also found support for our conclusion in Vo in the fetal manslaughter statute, A.R.S. section 13-1103(A)(5) (Supp. 1999-2000), which, by defining the killing of an unborn child as a separate offense from the killing of a "person," evidenced a legislative determination that a fetus was not to be considered a person within the meaning of the murder statute. 172 Ariz. at 201, 836 P.2d at 414.