State v. Jones

Jones was convicted at trial of two counts of attempted murder and other charges after he shot the victim three times. The evidence for one of the counts of attempted murder came largely from recorded and preserved conversations between Jones and others while he was incarcerated, during which Jones railed about the victim, insisting that she be prevented from testifying against him. His rantings ranged from anger that she had not already been killed to having bail posted for him so that he could do it himself. The Appellate Division reversed the attempted murder charge that was based on the recorded phone calls, finding insufficient evidence to prove the “substantial step” element of attempt. The Supreme Court of NJ reversed.

The Court held that attempts at persuasion can constitute conduct for purposes of attempt in appropriate circumstances, and that, here, the context was important for finding the verbal acts sufficient.