State v. Bingham

In State v. Bingham, 105 Wn. 2d 820, 828, 719 P.2d 109, 114 (Wash. 1986), the defendant was accused of strangling a mentally challenged adult while sexually assaulting her. Bingham, 105 Wn. 2d at 821, 719 P.2d at 110. The prosecution relied on pathology testimony indicating that manual strangulation took three to five minutes, enough time for the defendant to weigh the decision to take the life of his victim. Id. at 111. After receiving instructions for first and second degree murder as well as first degree manslaughter, the jury convicted Bingham of aggravated first degree murder. Upon review however, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed the conviction for want of evidence of premeditation. Id. The Washington State Supreme Court affirmed, stating: "We agree with the Court of Appeals majority that to allow a finding of premeditation only because the act takes an appreciable amount of time obliterates the distinction between first and second degree murder. Having the opportunity to deliberate is not evidence the defendant did deliberate, which is necessary for a finding of premeditation. Otherwise, any form of killing which took more than a moment could result in a finding of premeditation, without some additional evidence showing reflection." Id. at 113.