September 1, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The California Supreme Court has overturned a first-degree murder conviction for a man who caused a deadly crash when a stolen stove fell from his truck.
A unanimous decision issued Thursday says Orange County jurors were misled when they convicted Cole Allen Wilkins.
Wilkins was driving on State Route 91 in July 2006 when the stove he stole fell off his truck. David Stan Piquette swerved to avoid it, but was crushed by a trailer full of cement.
The opinion says if someone commits a felony and reaches a "place of temporary safety," any death they then cause is not a felony murder, and jurors may have found that Wilkins had reached one.
He'd been driving for at least an hour after the theft when the stove fell.