Could the Defendants Be Held Accountable for Each Other's Conduct When They Began Shooting at One Another and Injured a Bystander ?
In People v. Peterson, 273 Ill. App. 3d 412, 652 N.E.2d 1252, 210 Ill. Dec. 276 (1995), the two defendants argued and began shooting at one another, injuring an innocent bystander.
The trial court found both defendants guilty of aggravated discharge of a firearm because they engaged in a course of criminal conduct, the foreseeable result of which was injuring an innocent bystander.
On appeal, the court held that the defendants were acting at cross purposes, shooting at each other.
The gunfight was spontaneous.
There was no evidence that either defendant aided or abetted the other in furtherance of a common criminal design.
Because the evidence did not establish that each defendant intended to promote or facilitate the other's conduct, the court held that the two defendants could not be held accountable for each other's conduct.
The reasons they were not held accountable for each other's actions had nothing to do with the fact that the prosecution could not prove which defendant actually shot the bystander.