State v. St. Christopher

The Facts

Defendant stated to his cousin that he wanted to kill his mother and that he wanted his cousin’s help.  He stated that he would pay him $125,000 over the years.  The cousin testified that he never wanted to comply and contacted the police.  The police asked him to continue cooperating with the defendant.  The plan continued as requested developed such that the defendant would call his father to get him away from the house to help with car trouble while the cousin would kill his mother.  Defendant called his father and told him he was having car trouble and called the cousin telling him to proceed with the plan because his father had been drawn from the house.  At that point, defendant was arrested.

Procedural History

Defendant found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.  At trial it was argued that because the cousin didn’t actually intend to kill the mother himself, there was no conspiracy.


“Conspiracy is the agreement of two or more to effect an unlawful purpose.  Two people cannot agree unless they both intend to carry out the purpose which is stated to be the object of their combination.  Therefore, there is not agreement, and consequently no conspiracy, where one of the two never intends to carry out the unlawful purpose.”

The Issue

Whether a defendant can be found guilty of conspiracy where the co-conspirator feigned the agreement from the beginning and had no intention of carrying out the crime and the defendant had no knowledge of his feigned intent.

The Holding/Reasoning

Yes, conviction upheld.  Many commentators on conspiracy suggest that there should be no “meeting of the mind requirement” – as in there should be no requirement that both parties intend to carry out the crime.  This is because, “a man who believes he is conspiring to commit a crime and wishes to conspire to commit a crime has a guilty mind and has done all in his power to plot the commission of an unlawful purpose.”  Although the crime itself would not have been carried any nearer to execution because of the agreement under this scenario, the guilty mind of one of the parties still exists. “… a firm purpose to commit a crime-remains the same.”


The model penal code takes a different approach.  “A person is guilty of conspiracy if he… (a) agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or (b) agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.”

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