Murder by Torture Cases In California

People v. Lynn (1984) 159 Cal.App.3d 715, involved the crime of first degree murder by torture. Under section 189, "All murder which is perpetrated by ... torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing ... is murder of the first degree." More than 50 years ago, our Supreme Court explained that "in determining whether the murder was perpetrated by means of torture the solution must rest upon whether the assailant's intent was to cause cruel suffering on the part of the object of the attack, either for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion, or to satisfy some other untoward propensity." (People v. Tubby (1949) 34 Cal.2d 72, 77 207 P.2d 51.) Thus, it has long been said that "the essential elements of the crime are: '"... (1) the act or acts which caused the death must involve a high degree of probability of death, and; (2) the defendant must commit such act or acts with the intent to cause cruel pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion or for any other sadistic purpose." ' " (People v. Davenport (1985) 41 Cal.3d 247; see also People v. Whisenhunt (2008) 44 Cal.4th 174, 201.)