Commonwealth v. Carroll
412 Pa. 525, 194 A.2d 911 (1963)
Carroll and his wife were
having marital problems. One night, in bed, the two had a huge argument.
According to Carroll, he saw his handgun lying next to the bed, and
without thinking picked it up and shot her in the head.
Carroll testified that at
the time he was in a rage and/or a panic.
Carroll was arrested and
charged with murder.
The Trial Court convicted
Carroll of first-degree murder and
sentenced him to life in prison. He appealed.
According to Pennsylvania
law, first-degree murder included
"killing by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder."
Carroll argued that his act
was not premeditated because he
didn't plan to shoot her. He just saw the gun and did it.
Killing without premeditation is only second-degree murder, which carries a lesser penalty.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court
upheld the conviction.
The Pennsylvania Supreme
Court found that Carroll did have premeditate, even if only for a few seconds. That's long
enough to sustain a first-degree murder conviction.
"No time is too short
for a wicked man to frame in his mind the scheme of murder."
The case basically says that
as long as you act with a deliberate intent to kill someone, that can count as premeditation, even you don't plan the murder and think about
it for a while.
In the similar case of Young
v. State (428 So.2d 155 (1982)) it
was said that, "premeditation and deliberation may be formed while
the killer is pressing the trigger that fired the fatal shot."
Under the standard given in
this case, there doesn't seem to be any distinction between first-degree
murder and second-degree
Compare to State v.
Guthrie (461 S.E.2d 163 (1995)),
which said that there must have been an opportunity for some reflection
on the intention to kill after it is formed in order to sustain a first-degree