Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nebraska Supreme Court, Miller-Lerman, Justice affirms Lancaster County District Court conviction of felony murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony from the shooting death in an armed robbery of a marijuana dealer. State v. Banks, S-07-670, 278 Neb. 342. Defendant broke into the victims home to rob him of cash and a marijuana stash. Defendant shot the victim twice in the chest as he was getting away in his friends car. Nebraska Supreme Court affirms District Court's refusal to allow an alternative premediated first degree murder instruction along with the court's felony murder instruction. The district court's refusal to allow the jury to consider lesser included homicide offenses and acquittal on robbery the Supreme Court also affirms. Defendant also loses his appeal on jury selection, venue, witnesses cross examination and the state's late amendment of the weapons charge from a Class III felony to a firearms Class II felony. We conclude that Banks has not established reversible error from the court’s refusal to instruct on premeditated murder and the lesser-included offenses of second degree murder and manslaughter. In this case, Banks was convicted of first degree murder based on sufficient evidence. Banks has shown no prejudice from the refusal to instruct on premeditated murder, because such instruction would have simply given the jury an additional theory under which to convict Banks of first degree murder. Banks also has not shown that he was prejudiced by the failure to instruct on premeditated murder with its corresponding lesser-included offenses, because the evidence did not produce a rational basis to acquit him of first degree murder under a felony murder theory but convict him of second degree murder or manslaughter. The district court therefore did not violate Banks’ right to due process and did not otherwise prejudicially err when it refused to give the instructions requested by Banks

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