CSC Calls For Revision Of Kill Zone Instruction (CC 600)
February 18th, 2020

People v. Canizales (2019) 7 Cal.5th 591, 607 concluded that CC 600 was deficient and recommended revisions of that instruction as follows:

“We therefore conclude that the kill zone theory for establishing the specific intent to kill required for conviction of attempted murder may properly be applied only when a jury concludes: (1) the circumstances of the defendant’s attack on a primary target, including the type and extent of force the defendant used, are such that the only reasonable inference is that the defendant intended to create a zone of fatal harm—that is, an area in which the defendant intended to kill everyone present to ensure the primary target’s death—around the primary target and (2) the alleged attempted murder victim who was not the primary target was located within that zone of harm. Taken together, such evidence will support a finding that the defendant harbored the requisite specific intent to kill both the primary target and everyone within the zone of fatal harm.

“In determining the defendant’s intent to create a zone of fatal harm and the scope of any such zone, the jury should consider the circumstances of the offense, such as the type of weapon used, the number of shots fired (where a firearm is used), the distance between the defendant and the alleged victims, and the proximity of the alleged victims to the primary target. Evidence that a defendant who intends to kill a primary target acted with only conscious disregard of the risk of serious injury or death for those around a primary target does not satisfy the kill zone theory. … We believe our formulation of the kill zone theory here guards against the potential misapplication of the theory, and is consistent with Bland and the general principles discussed above regarding circumstantial evidence and the prosecution’s burden of proving each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt [FN omitted.]

CALCRIM revisions of CC 600 intended to comply with Canizales will likely be published in the Spring of 2020.

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