Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
State v. Hunter
At the time of this case, § 21-3401 of the Kansas Statutes precluded use of the defense of compulsionin cases where the defendant was charged with first degree murder or voluntary homicide, but did not specifically state whether the defense was permitted in felony murder cases. Hunter (Defendant) hitched a ride in a truck in which Remeta and others were riding. Remeta, after brandishing guns and making threatening comments to Defendant about killing hitchhikers, shot and wounded a policeman who had pulled the truck over. The group then proceeded to a grain elevator, where Remata, apparently assisted by Defendant, took two people as hostages. After the truck had proceeded some distance, Remata shot and killed the hostages. Defendant was charged with two counts of felony murder for his participation in the kidnapping and killing of the hostages. At Defendant’s trial, witnesses for the State testified that Defendant had been armed, but both Defendant and Remata testified that only Remata was armed and that Remata had ordered Defendant to watch the hostages. There was testimony that Defendant had been out of Remata’s sight at the back of the elevator building for a period of about five minutes, but Defendant testified that he did not think he had a chance to escape. The court refused Defendant’s request to instruct the jury on the defense of compulsion on the ground that § 21-3401 precluded the defense in cases of felony murder. Defendant was convicted of felony murder. Defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of Kansas.
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