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Criminal Law Keyed to Kennedy
State of New Mexico v. Cecil Boyett
Citation:144 N.M. 184 (2008)
Defendant and the victim, Deborah Rhodes, had a rancorous history. They were childhood friends who eventually moved in together and started an intimate relationship. Although their romance ended, the two remained close friends, living and working together. Renate Wilder later met Defendant, and the two became romantically involved. Wilder eventually supplanted Victim’s presence in her life with that of Defendant. Disdain developed between Defendant and Victim, and Victim only occasionally returned to Wilder’s home after she was forced out.
Wilder and Defendant planned to marry on February 6, 2004. A few days prior to her wedding, Wilder spent time with Victim and did not tell Defendant where she was or what she was doing. Wondering as to her whereabouts, Defendant engaged in a variety of activities aimed at locating her but was unsuccessful in his attempts; he rightfully suspected that she was with Victim although he was unable, at that time, to confirm his suspicions.
On the afternoon of February 5, 2004, Wilder departed Victim’s company to return to her own home but had a car accident along the way. The accident occurred near Victim’s residence and, for a variety of reasons, Victim offered to claim responsibility for it. Wilder accepted and departed the scene on foot, walking back to the house that she shared with Defendant. Shortly after Wilder returned to the house, Victim arrived. Victim’s visit concluded when Defendant shot her in the head with a .357 revolver from approximately four feet away, but the events leading to that end were disputed at trial.
The prosecutor argued that Victim arrived at the house to return Wilder’s car keys, that Defendant opened the door, shouted at her to leave, and then immediately shot her.
Defendant claimed that Victim came to the house that day intent on killing him to prevent his impending marriage to Wilder. Defendant testified that he heard a loud banging at the front door, grabbed the gun that he kept nearby, and opened the door only to find a furious Victim on the doorstep. Defendant said that he shouted at Victim, telling her to get off his property, but in the process of trying to run her off, he observed her draw the gun that he knew she routinely carried. In fear for his life, Defendant raised his revolver and shot Victim. Defendant asserted that if he had not shot her, she would have fired her gun and fatally wounded him. He argued that he was not guilty because he acted lawfully in shooting Victim, either in self defense, defense of another, or defense of habituation. The trial court held that the jury instruction related to the defense of habituation did not apply because Defendant did not shoot Victim inside of his home.
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