Murder With Depraved Indifference to Human Life Example in New York

In People v. Payne, 3 N.Y.3d 266, 819 N.E.2d 634, 786 N.Y.S.2d 116 [2004], the defendant armed himself with a shotgun, deliberately sought out the victim and shot him once, just below the heart, from point-blank range. The jury acquitted the defendant of intentional murder and convicted him of murder with depraved indifference to human life. In reversing the order of the Appellate Division and dismissing the indictment the court stated, "It should be obvious that the more the defendant shoots (or stabs or bludgeons) the victim, the more clearly intentional is the homicide. Firing more rounds or inflicting more wounds does not make the act more depravedly indifferent, but more intentional. Absent the type of circumstances in, for example, Sanchez, (where others were endangered) a one-on-one shooting or knifing (or similar killing) can almost never qualify as depraved indifference murder" (People v. Payne, supra, at 272).