Justice Timpone concluded in relevant part: Context is important for finding the verbal acts sufficient enough in this matter. Defendant’s decrees here — 1) instructing his girlfriend to text someone on his behalf to carry out the murder of A.A., 2) directing his cohorts to carry out the murder of A.A., and 3) demanding that his cousin post bail to briefly release him from jail so that he could carry out the murder himself — were designed to prompt actions that could not be undertaken by defendant himself due to his incarceration. Common sense compels the recognition that the fact that defendant’s actions in furtherance of his criminal purpose relied on the use of a conduit, in light of his imprisonment, does not render his substantial steps meaningless. The jury here was entitled to apply its common sense and experience to interpret defendant’s words and actions to determine his intent.
The State presented sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that defendant took substantial steps to accomplish his plan. Defendant’s actions permitted the jury to draw reasonable inferences and conclude that defendant’s actions throughout his telephone calls, and how accomplished, together provided the necessary “substantial step” to be charged again with attempted murder.
In conclusion, we agree with the trial judge’s determination that based on the rare circumstances in this case, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to have concluded that defendant took substantial steps toward a second attempt on the victim’s life.
We therefore reverse the Appellate Division’s decision and reinstate defendant’s conviction on the second charge of attempted murder.
The unanimous reversal of the Appellate Division’s decision was a rare result, at least in theory. The unanimous Appellate Division decision was per curiam. That means that no particular judge on the appellate panel attached their name to the decision because it was determined to be such a straightforward application of the law to the facts that none of the judges had a basis to author their own distinct opinion. That is the theory behind “per curiam” opinions. In practice, the opinions are increasingly common. This could be more due to the fact particular judges do not like attaching their names to controversial opinions or opinions that might be reversed.