The jury only spent about an hour deliberating before breaking for the night last night, and have been back at it this morning. They have just asked a question, and its an interesting one about the Principal Theory. According to @patriciamazzei of the Miami Herald, who is live tweeting the Rivera trial today, they asked if both elements of principal theory must be proven. Perhaps they are having trouble finding one of the elements. Most questions don’t sound good for the defense, but this one certainly does. That’s far from meaning he’s about to walk, but it is a positive sign that the jury is struggling with something. Perhaps they aren’t convinced he’s the shooter, and are trying to determine if the principal theory applies.
Principal theory applies to anyone who knowingly aids, abets, or in any way encourages a crime to occur. Both elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt for it to apply. The elements are printed below in the standard jury instruction. I won’t be around this afternoon, so I’m afraid my updates will be slow coming. The jury has ordered lunch, so they have a while left to deliberate.
§ 777.011, Fla.Stat.
If the defendant helped another person or persons [commit] [attempt to commit] a crime, the defendant is a principal and must be treated as if [he] [she] had done all the things the other person or persons did if:
1. the defendant had a conscious intent that the criminal act be done and
2. the defendant did some act or said some word which was intended to and which did incite, cause, encourage, assist, or advise the other person or persons to actually [commit] [attempt to commit] the crime.
To be a principal, the defendant does not have to be present when the crime is [committed] [or] [attempted]. See State v. Dene, 533 So.2d 265 (Fla. 1988).