C.A. Affirms Amputee’s Conviction for Assault
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal on Friday rejected the contention of an amputee that he lacked the ability to commit an assault because, when he stood on his one leg and thrust a knife at a restaurant manager in the kitchen of the establishment, he had to steady himself with one hand on a table and was incapable of inflicting harm.
Justice William Dato wrote the opinion affirming the conviction in San Diego Superior Court of Daniel Ronald Webb for an assault with a deadly weapon.
“For over a hundred and seventy years, California has defined the crime of assault as ‘an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another,’ ” Dato said, citing Penal Code §240. “This case involves the ‘present ability’ requirement.”
Webb became embroiled in a dispute with the managers of a fast-food restaurant in Santee. His attack was committed on the operations manager, Shane Hernandez.
In his reply brief on appeal, he argued:
“What respondent [Superior Court] ignores and none of the cases speak to is Webb’s actual physical inability to commit assault in the situation he was in. Based on the victim’s own testimony, not only was a table between them making it impossible for Webb to reach them, but Webb was precariously balanced on one leg with only the table holding him up. Webb testified he [could not] stand up without assistance and also cannot walk without an aid. Thus, he never had the ability to get any closer to Hernandez to commit an assault.”
“[W]e accept his premise as a matter of theory but still disagree with his conclusion.”
“We need not engage in difficult line drawing to determine the precise limits of a defendant’s striking radius in light of particular physical limitations. Wherever that line lies as to Webb, his actions clearly fell within it, given evidence he thrust his blade within a foot of Shane, causing him to step back to avoid being stabbed. Considering the record in the light most favorable to the judgment, there is ample substantial evidence to support the court’s finding that Webb committed an assault. Despite his physical limitations, Webb had the present ability to inflict violent injury when he lunged at Shane at close distance while holding a knife at chest height.”
The case is People v. Webb, D080147.
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