To be found guilty of first degree murder, it must be proven that killed someone with malice aforethought, meaning it was planned, premeditated. First degree murder is to kill malevolence, to kill either intentionally and deliberately or recklessly with the utmost disregard for human life. Premeditation may be fashioned immediately and does not require a lengthy period of contemplation. The death penalty is recognized in Thirty-eight states. Capital first-degree murder or aggravated first-degree murder is categorized in killings viewed as deserving of capital punishment. Life imprisonment or death penalty is the punishment resulted in a conviction. States who do not recognized the death penalty, aggravated murder carries life imprisonment. When aggravated or capital murder is committed in a heinous or monstrous fashion, it is considered homicide (Lippman, 2006).
To plan or deliberate is premeditation. Depending on the circumstances and the person, there must be an amount of time needed to plan and commit murder (actus reas). There must a period of time long enough for the person to form the intent (mens rea) to kill for them to be fully aware in their mind to consider the murder (Lectlaw, 2010).
In California, first-degree murder includes the “willful, deliberate, and premeditated,” or to what is committed in the perpetration, or the attempt to perpetrate, certain felonies, which includes burglary, excluding petty offense of shoplifting (Cal. Penal Code S 189) (Lectlaw, 2010).
The “mens rea” of first degree murder is that the person, with time and intent, planned out or premeditated the murder. The “actus reas” of first degree murder is the actual act of committing the murder after planning it (Lippman, 2006).
The Laci Peterson case is good example of first degree murder. Scott Peterson was tried and found guilty of first-degree murder of killing his wife Laci Peterson who was eight months pregnant with their son who was going to be name Conner. Scott Peterson was found guilty of second-degree murder for his son’s death. The prosecutors wanted two first-degree murder convictions, but jurors believed that the slaying of the unborn child, Conner, was not premeditated and deliberate. The one first-degree murder count in conjunction with the special circumstance of multiple counts of murder, made Scott Peterson eligible for the death penalty (CourtTV, 2008).
There was only one piece of physical evidence which were two hairs found in a pair of pliers inside Scott Peterson’s fishing boat (Gudgell, 2004). 174 witnesses and hundreds of pieces of evidence from...