(in case you were wondering)
We found out from the Judge (after we read our verdict and were released from the actual court room) that the Defendant wanted to plead guilty to 2nd Degree Murder, but the State wouldn't accept his plea.
The State believed they had a "slam dunk case" of 1st Degree Murder and would not back down from the indictment. So the defendant pleaded NOT GUILTY to 1st degree murder (by reason of self-defense).
Oddly enough, we came back with the verdict of 2nd Degree Murder.
T.P.I. -- CRIM. 7.05(a)
SECOND DEGREE MURDER (Knowing Killing of Another)
Any person who commits second degree murder is guilty of a crime.For you to find the defendant guilty of this offense, the state must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of the following essential elements:
(1) that the defendant unlawfully killed the alleged victim; and
(2) that the defendant acted knowingly."Knowingly" means that a person acts with an awareness that [his] conduct is reasonably certain to cause the death of the alleged victim.
[The requirement of "knowingly" is also established if it is shown that the defendant acted intentionally.]
We also asked the Judge what she personally thought about our Verdict. She said we made a good decision and she assumed it could go either way (1st or 2nd degree).
She said that the defendant did not have an extensive criminal background and only had a previous misdemeanor charge (we don't know what that was).
Through her experience, she thought the Defendant was a seemingly nice young man who accepted responsibility for his crime (which are my thoughts as well, since I essentially had eye contact with him most of the trial).
She thought the incident was senseless and sad. We asked the Judge about typical sentences for 2nd Degree Murder. She said that it can range anywhere from 13.5 years to 25 years without parole and service time has to be at least 85%.
The Defendant has already served 2.5 years. He is now 25 years old. The Judge assumes he will probably service an addition 15 years.
Sentencing occurs next month, it is completely separate from us.