Colorado v. OpanaAnnotate this Case
The State appealed the reversal of Kalani Opana’s conviction for second degree murder, in the shooting death of one of his housemates. The district court instructed the jury as to the use of deadly physical force in defense of one’s person. In consideration of the statutory definition of the term “deadly physical force,” which limited the applicability of the term to “force, the intended, natural, and probable consequence of which is to produce death,” the court of appeals determined that there was adequate evidence produced at trial for the jury to have found that Opana used physical force not rising to the level of “deadly” physical force, and it concluded that in this case the failure of the trial court to instruct the jury, sua sponte, on the use of physical force generally amounted to plain error. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded the court of appeals misconstrued the definition of “deadly physical force,” and when that statutory term is properly construed, the evidence at trial did not support an instruction on self-defense predicated on the use of other-than-“deadly” physical force. The court of appeals was accordingly reversed, and the case remanded for consideration of the defendant’s remaining assignments of error.