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Criminal Law Keyed to Gershowitz
People v. Wolff
Citation:61 Cal.2d 795, 40 Cal.Rptr. 271, 394 P.2d 959.
The defendant, a 15-year-old boy, obtained an axe handle from the family garage and hid it under the mattress of his bed. A few days later, he approached his mother from behind and struck her on the back of the head. She turned around screaming and he struck her several more blows. She called out her neighbor’s name and defendant began choking her. She bit him on the hand and crawled away. He got up to turn off the water running in the sink, and she fled through the dining room. He gave chase, caught her in the front room, and choked her to death with his hands.
Defendant then took off his shirt and hung it by the fire, washed the blood off his face and hands, read a few lines from a Bible or prayer book lying upon the dining room table, and walked down to the police station to turn himself in. Defendant told the desk officer, “I have something I wish to report . . . I just killed my mother with an axe handle.”
He was charged with the murder of his mother. He plead not guilty by reason of insanity. At trial, there was evidence from experts that the defendant was suffering from schizophrenia. The jury found him legally sane and the court determine the crime to be murder in the first degree. He appealed.
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