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Arizona Defendant Unsuccessfully Appeals Conviction for Concealment of Body Parts

In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant challenged his guilty verdict based on the trial court’s definition of the word “education.” The case centered on the defendant’s insistence that his scattering dead body parts in public areas was not a crime, but instead was an attempt to educate the public. The jury disagreed, and the higher court ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case worked for a body donation center in Washington. He moved to Arizona, and he decided to take several human body parts along with him when he moved. Oddly, the man then scattered the body parts in the Arizona desert. This was important, the defendant later claimed, because he needed to educate passersby on public safety issues. He did not, however, offer a coherent statement about how the body parts would achieve his stated purpose.

Pedestrians found the body parts, and investigators traced them back to the defendant’s previous place of work, which they then back to the defendant himself. The defendant was charged with abandonment and concealment of a dead body. He pled not guilty, but a jury found him guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced the defendant to 2.5 years in prison. He promptly appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant contended that the jury did not properly consider his argument that the scattering of body parts was for the purpose of public education. He argued that the trial court judge did not sufficiently define the word “education” for the jury, and the jury members were thus unable to fully understand what he was trying to do. Because of this, his conviction should be reversed.

The court of appeals reviewed the trial court’s record and determined that the judge did, indeed, provide sufficient detail in defining the word “education” for the jury. Additionally, the higher court ruled that people of reasonable intelligence have a strong enough understanding of the term to know that the defendant’s actions did not fall under the umbrella of “education.” It would have been unreasonable for the jury to find that the defendant’s offenses were appropriate in order to educate the public, and their guilty verdict was therefore in line with the law.

With that, the court affirmed the defendant’s original convictions and sentence.

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