Following a hearing on Wednesday, a Superior Court Judge has ruled that there is sufficient evidence for a suspect accused of shooting a Newport Beach doctor to stand trial for murder.
The 76-year-old suspect was accused of fatally shooting a urologist at a Newport Beach medical facility on January 28, 2013, and has been charged with murder in relation to the incident. According to the Newport Beach police, the suspect shot the doctor six times in the chest as the doctor walked into an exam room and then surrendered to the police. The handgun used in the shooting was allegedly registered to the suspect.
At Wednesday's hearing, a Superior Court Judge heard testimony and reviewed the evidence submitted by both the defense and prosecution regarding the shooting. Two Newport Beach police officers testified about the crime, and the suspect's attorney also presented evidence she said showed that the suspect had made an appointment with another doctor on January 31, which would indicate that the January 28 shooting was not premeditated. The Judge found that there was sufficient evidence to support the murder charge, a handgun enhancement and a "lying in wait" allegation in trial.
A trial date has not been set as of this time.
Murder Charges in California
Why was the establishment of premeditation an important issue in the case discussed above? In this situation, the suspect faces murder charges and the possibility of life in prison without parole if he is convicted. If premeditation is not proven, the suspect may face lesser charges and penalties.
California Penal Code § 187 describes the criminal offense of murder, defining it as "the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice aforethought." Malice aforethought may be described as acting with wanton disregard for human life or committing an act that has a high probability of causing death. Malice may be express or implied. Express malice would mean that the defendant specifically intended to kill the victim, and implied malice would mean that the death resulted from an intentional act, from an inherently dangerous act or from an act that was carried out with extreme disregard for human life.
In the case above, the judge confirmed a "lying in wait" allegation, and this means that the suspect may face first-degree murder charges. First-degree murder may be defined as committing a murder:
- With an explosive or destructive device, or by lying in wait;
- By killing in a way that is premeditated, deliberate or willful; or
- By killing another during the commission of a felony offense.
First-degree murder is punishable by 25 years to life in state prison. In certain circumstances, first-degree murder may be punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole, which the suspect above is in danger of facing.
There is no question that murder charges are the most serious that a defendant may face. In fact, a person convicted of capital murder in California may face the death penalty. This occurs only in extreme cases, but a defendant's very life may be on the line if he or she is accused of taking another's life. One's only chance of avoiding a conviction and maximum penalties will be working with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can apply knowledge of constitutional rights, case law and criminal law to the case.
At the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, we provide hard-hitting criminal defense counsel to clients throughout Orange County and the surrounding areas in Southern California. Cases involving violent crimes like murder, manslaughter, and assault require an aggressive approach that surpasses the fervor with which district attorneys prosecute these cases. With our experience, manpower, and resources, we can build compelling cases to defend our clients' freedom, rights, and lives. Contact an Orange County criminal defense lawyer at our firm to discuss your case and how we can help you.