Example of a Double Murder Case In California

In People v. Harris (1981) 28 Cal.3d 935, a double-murder prosecution, the California Supreme Court upheld the admission of evidence that the defendant robbed a bank later on the day of the murders using the pistol he had used to commit the murders and driving the murder victims' automobile as his getaway car. The court found the robbery evidence was relevant to show that the defendant had the means to commit the murders and to show intent because the evidence indicated the murders were committed in furtherance of the planned bank robbery. (Id. at p. 957.) The trial court also cited People v. Williams (1988) 44 Cal.3d 883, in which the court allowed evidence of a robbery that occurred about a week before three murders. Among other items taken in the robbery was a checkbook. (Id. at p. 898.) The defendant later met the murder victims at a yard sale where he expressed interest in buying a car from one of the victims, Miguel. (Ibid.) The next day, the defendant wrote Miguel a check for the car using a check stolen in the robbery. (Id. at pp. 898-899.) He later went to Miguel's home, which Miguel shared with the other victims, to retrieve the check. (Id. at p. 899.) He and his accomplice killed Miguel and the other victims and removed the check from Miguel's pocket. (Id. at p. 900.) The court found the robbery evidence relevant to prove both intent and identity, reasoning that defendant feared he would be identified as the perpetrator of the camper robbery if the check were to be negotiated. (Id. at p. 911.)