Graham v. Commonwealth
In Graham v. Commonwealth, 250 Va. 487, 464 S.E.2d 128 (1995), the Supreme Court considered whether Code 18.2-31(7), which prohibits the "willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of more than one person as a part of the same act or transaction," requires proof that the defendant was the triggerman in each murder referenced in the indictment. See id. at 492, 464 S.E.2d at 130.
The Court in Graham thoroughly reviewed the legislative intent of the capital murder statute and stated:
The language of Code 18.2-31(7) evidences a legislative determination that the described offense is qualitatively more egregious than an isolated act of premeditated murder.
This result is accomplished by the addition of a gradation crime to the single act of premeditated murder. Under this subsection, the gradation crime is the defendant's killing of more than one person as part of the same act or transaction. Id. at 491, 464 S.E.2d at 130.