Schiro v. Farley, 510 U.S. 222, 14 (1994)

Page:   Index   Previous  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  Next

Cite as: 510 U. S. 222 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

ther told that "[t]he instructions of the court are the best source as to the law applicable to this case." Id., at 20. The jury may well have believed, therefore, that it was required to find a knowing or intentional killing in order to convict Schiro on any of the three murder counts. In sum, in light of the jury instructions, we find that as a matter of law the jury verdict did not necessarily depend on a finding that Schiro lacked an intent to kill.

Although not necessary to our conclusion, we note that there is additional evidence in the record indicating that Schiro's intent to kill was not a significant issue in the case. The defense primarily confined its proof at trial to showing that Schiro was insane, and did not dispute that Schiro had committed the murder. At no point during the guilt phase did defense counsel or any of the defense witnesses assert that Schiro should be acquitted on Count I because he lacked an intent to kill. Indeed, we have located no point in the transcript of the proceedings where defense counsel or defense witnesses even discussed the issue of Schiro's intent to kill. Schiro argues that his intent to kill was put in issue by the insanity defense. But, even if that were so, the jury did not accept this defense. Even defense counsel apparently believed that Schiro's intent was not an issue in the case. After the jury returned its verdict of guilty on Count II, and reconvened to consider the appropriate sentence, defense counsel indicated his belief that by convicting Schiro on Count II, the jury had found that he had an intent to kill:

"The statute . . . provides for aggravating circumstances. There is one listed in this case, and one which you may consider. And that one is that the murder was committed, was intentionally committed in the commission of rape and some other things. I assume by your verdict Friday, or Saturday, that you've probably . . . decided that issue. In finding him guilty of murder in the commission of rape, I'm assuming you've decided beyond


Page:   Index   Previous  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007