Criminal: MCCOMBS V. COMMONWEALTH [COA 6/23/2006]

MCCOMBS V. COMMONWEALTH
CRIMINAL:  Crimes (deadly weapon; crowbar; KRS 500.800(4)(D))
2004-CA-001850
PUBLISHED
AFFIRMING IN PART, REVERSING IN PART, AND REMANDING;  TAYLOR
DATE RENDERED: 6/23/2006

In Hicks v. Commonwealth, 550 S.W.2d 480, 481 (Ky. 1977), the Court specifically held it should never be necessary in the instructions to define the words, "deadly weapon." Whether the particular instrument is or is not a deadly weapon should be determined by the court as a matter of law.   

Consequently, the issue of whether the crowbar constituted a deadly weapon is a question of law for the court and not a question of fact for the jury. Even though the issue was properly a question of law for the court,  the trial court erred by determining the crowbar constituted a deadly weapon within the meaning of KRS 500.080(4).  The specific items listed as deadly weapons in KRS 500.080(4) have one striking similarity – the fundamental nature and primary use of the denoted items are as “weapons.”  In comprising the list of deadly weapons in KRS 500.080(4), the General Assembly clearly and unmistakably signaled its intent that deadly weapons are those items that are quintessentially “weapons.”   A crowbar is not quintessentially a weapon, as its primary use is that of a tool.   The term “club”, as found in KRS 500.080(4)(d), is not to be so broadly applied as to include a crowbar.  COA held the trial court erred by concluding as a matter of law that the crowbar constituted a deadly weapon under KRS 500.080(4)(d).

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