Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Jurist Employs Humor in Attempted Murder Case
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Court of Appeal Justice Eileen Moore of the Fourth District’s Orange County-based panel yesterday resorted to humor in describing efforts to slay a Hemet police detective.
Her opinion for Div. Three began:
“Defendant Nicholas John Smit was charged with a number of drug offenses that exposed him to a maximum of 11 years in state prison. How did defendant attempt to avoid those 11 years? By trying to kill the detective whose testimony was required to convict him, of course. None of the usual suspects such as Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam, not even Boris or Natasha, ever eclipsed what defendant did here.”
Moore went on to recount:
“Defendant’s efforts to kill the detective included attempting to fire a military rocket at the building where the detective worked, setting three boobytraps using panji boards and three more using zip guns. One of the zip gun boobytraps was attached to a fence gate and designed to shoot when the gate was opened. The other zip gun boobytraps were rigged underneath vehicles known to be driven by the detective.”
“In a way, defendant’s attempts to kill the detective were successful. He no longer faced that 11 years. Instead, the court sentenced him to four consecutive life terms, plus an additional term of more than 40 years.”
The jurist explained that the case—People v. Smit, G049090, 13 S.O.S. 1366—was certified for publication “because defendant’s use of zip gun boobytraps requires us to decide whether his conduct qualifies as personal use of a firearm” for enhancement purposes.
The appellant argued that rigging a gun to go off when he was not present could not be considered “personal use.” Moore declared:
“…‘Use’ means, among other things, ‘to carry out a purpose or action by means of,’ to ‘make instrumental to an end or process,’ and to ‘apply to advantage.’…”....Defendant clearly used the zip gun to carry out his purpose of attempting to kill” the detective.
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