Accomplice Conviction of First Degree Murder While Actual Perpetrator Convicted of Second Degree Murder

In State v. Wilder (Wash.App. 1980) 25 Wash. App. 568, 608 P.2d 270, the court upheld a first degree murder conviction of the accomplice despite the perpetrator being convicted of second degree murder. The evidence showed the accomplice aided and abetted the perpetrator with a premeditated intent to kill. (25 Wash. App. at pp. 573-574.) In addition to the historic underpinnings of criminal law in general and accomplice liability in particular, policy considerations support differing treatment of those concerned in the commission of a homicide. Reduction of murder to voluntary manslaughter on the basis of heat of passion or imperfect self-defense is premised on the mental state of the perpetrator, a mental state not necessarily shared by the accomplice. An accomplice who knowingly assists another to commit murder is no less culpable if the other ultimately kills the victim while in a heat of passion or under a mistaken belief in the need for self-defense. (See Dressler, supra, Understanding Criminal Law, 30.06[B][2][b], pp. 446-447.)