Is Killing the Mother Without Knowing She Was Pregnant a Premeditated Murder ?
In People v. Taylor (2004) 32 Cal.4th 863, the perpetrator knew the victim and had no reason to believe she was pregnant. There were no outward signs of pregnancy.
The murderer intended to kill the mother alone, and in the absence of knowledge of pregnancy, Justice Kennard, in her dissent, reasoned that intent could not be transferred to the fetus. (Taylor, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 875, dis. opn. of Kennard, J. killer's conduct or expressions of intent do not permit inference that he acted with express malice toward fetus where no knowledge of pregnancy.)
The majority in Taylor rejected this reasoning and concluded there was implied malice to support a conviction for the killing of both the mother and the fetus.
It reasoned that malice is implied whenever the killing results from an intentional act, the natural consequences of which are dangerous to life, where the act is performed deliberately with knowledge that the act endangers the life of another, but is undertaken with conscious disregard for life. (Id. at pp. 867-868)
The majority in Taylor concluded that, to act with conscious disregard for life, one need not be cognizant of the identity of a victim or even of the victim's existence. (Taylor, supra, at p. 868.)
The jury was instructed in Taylor only on the theory of willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder. (Ibid.)