Back to the FAQ

The FAQ: The Murder of Anastasia WitbolsFeugen
What was the standard of "reasonable doubt" applied to Byron Case's trial?

The instructions given by Judge Charles E. Atwell to the jury during the deliberation phase of the trial State v. Case were as follows:1
"The Defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until, during your deliberations, upon your verdict you find him Guilty.

"This presumption of innocence places upon the State the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is Guilty. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence in the case."

"Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you firmly convinced of the Defendantís guilt. The law does not require proof that overcomes every possible doubt".

It was apparently part of the defense strategy to place any doubt it could, and there were later statements from the convicted murderer and his supporters equating "reasonable doubt" with "beyond any shadow of a doubt", and went so far as to criticize his attorney for not actively seeking a hung jury.

From this instruction, and from the jury's "guilty" verdict,2 it may safely be inferred that the jury believed that the prosecution, by presentation of evidence and testimony, firmly convinced the jury of Byron Case's guilt, and that his defense was unable to introduce sufficient or reasonable doubt to sway the jury.

Top of page
Back to the FAQ