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Eighth Circuit Upholds Definition of Arson Includes Burning of Car
EIGHTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS DEFINITION OF ARSON INCLUDES BURNING OF CAR
In U.S. v. Auginash, (pdf format) No. 00-3206 (Oct. 2, 2001) the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the defendant's conviction for arson of a motor vehicle. After a domestic dispute officers were called to the scene. The defendant threatened again to harm the victim. Later, the officers drove past the victim's home and saw a car on fire. The fire was extinguished and the victim's body was recovered from the trunk of the car.
The defendant challenged his conviction claiming 18 U.S.C. section 81 which defines arson and does not mention the word motor vehicle, only machinery. The court disagreed finding the inclusion of automobiles in the ordinary meaning of "machinery" was appropriate citing Webster's New International Dictionary. The burning of an automobile constitutes arson under section 81 and his conviction was affirmed.
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