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Sufficiency of Evidence–First-Degree Intentional Homicide

State v. William F. Vollbrecht, 2012AP49-CR, District 3, 11/6/12,  court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity

Evidence held sufficient to sustain conviction for first-degree intentional homicide. The jury was entitled to reject Vollbrecht’s testimony that the shot he fired into his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend was accidental.

¶12      Vollbrecht’s argument fails on two fronts.  First, consistent with Poellinger, the jury was permitted to accept Clark’s revised version of events and reject Vollbrecht’s tenuous explanation of what occurred at the time of the shooting.  It was similarly free to reject both parties’ testimony and merely infer that the homicide was intentional based on, among other things, Vollbrecht’s prior threats, his very presence in Farmer’s bedroom, and, ultimately, the improbable fact that the bullet lodged in Farmer’s neck rather than harmlessly flying off in another direction.  As set forth in the background section, there was not merely sufficient, but ample, evidence in support of Vollbrecht’s conviction—much of it coming from him.

Vollbrecht’s threatened suicide is irrelevant to his intent to kill, ¶13. His claim of provocation so as to reduce the offense to second-degree – during a run-in earlier that day, the victim said he would fight Vollbrecht any time – meets a similar fate:

¶16      Additionally, Farmer’s alleged provocation occurred well before the homicide.  This cooling-off period militates against a finding that the provocation actually caused a complete lack of self-control at the time of the shooting or that the provocation would have been sufficient to do so in an ordinarily constituted person. …

¶17      Neither could Farmer’s sleeping with Clark constitute further provocation at the time of the shooting.  It is unreasonable to expect that an ex‑girlfriend would not have relations with other men, and there is nothing about that situation that could constitute provocation on Farmer’s behalf.  In fact, when asked at trial, Vollbrecht agreed that just prior to shooting Farmer “there was nothing that [Farmer] did that could have in any way provoked [Vollbrecht] to action.”

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