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2013 UT App 216, 310 P.3d 755 (September 6, 2013) 

Sep 6, 2013

The Utah Court of Appeals determined there was no error in convicting an individual of manslaughter, a general intent crime, even though the lead actor was convicted of aggravated murder, a specific intent crime. Binkerd, 2013 UT App 216, ¶ 29. The court recognized that under Utah precedent, an accomplice to a crime need not have the same intent as the principal. Id. Specifically, it relied on a quote from State v. Jeffs, stating that “‘ accomplice liability adheres only when the accused acts with the mens rea to commit the principal offense.’” Id. ¶ 26 (quoting State v. Jeffs, 2010 UT 49, ¶ 44, 243 P.3d 1250). The court explained that its understanding of the term “‘ principal offense’ [meant] the offense of which the defendant is convicted under a theory of accomplice liability.” Id. Because defendant “was found guilty of acting as an accomplice to manslaughter, not murder . . . it is manslaughter, not murder, which is the ‘ principal offense.’” Id. Accordingly, because the defendant acted with the mental state necessary for a conviction of manslaughter, i.e., his intentional acts and statements “disregarded the distinct possibility that [the lead actor] would interpret them to be a directive to murder the victim,” there was no error. Id. ¶ 28.