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There are now 24 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Oddstar says

    I may be mistaken about this, but doesn’t felony murder require that the person killed not be an accomplice? Am I completely wrong about that, or is that something that varies by jurisdiction?

    • Felony murder applies even to accomplices who are killed. There may be local exceptions (as with everything in American law, YMMV from state to state), but that’s the general rule.

      • YMMV, but it seems to vary in favor of Steve. An incomplete count finds more states saying this is not murder than say it is, with most of those saying it is merely not having tested it in court, which have ruled that it is an implied exception. Enmund v. Florida may have been just a 5-4 decision in a death penalty case at a time when the US Supreme Court was pretty anti-death penalty, but it still gives support to Steve here.
        Pretty much, this is just a scare tactic to make Steve accept a tougher plea bargain.

          • A plea bargain doesn’t mean you testify against anyone, it means you enter a plea of “guilty” instead of “not guilty”–that is, you don’t force the government to go through the motions of proving you did it.

  2. Warclam says

    Wait, I call foul. Steve didn’t know about the gun, so had no reason to suspect it was going to get dangerous.

    Also, the shopkeeper with the bat seemed to me to be acting in self-defense. Does that make a difference for Steve, since it then wasn’t homicide? Or does the defense only work for the shopkeeper, and the homicide charge still float around looking for someone to stick to?

    • Well, then that’s a lack of clarity on my part. It was supposed to be set up so that Steve ought to have known there was a risk of physical danger (per the fictional statute). I ought to have had the two guys bicker about the gun in front of her, rather than behind her.

      Thanks for the good call! It’s certainly an argument that you’d want to raise with the prosecutor (don’t charge her / give her a better deal) or in front of a jury.

    • Even when you successfully use self-defense as a defense, it is still a homicide. You have agreed that the prosecutor’s presentation of the facts is accurate, thus making it a homicide. Then, however, you are claiming that self-defense is your justification for COMMITTING the homicide.

      I’m not a lawyer.

  3. JW says

    I dig Steve’s character design, as well as the fact you gave her a “guy” name :) Neat.

  4. kd7sov says

    …Huh, I’d expect (even with only a /felony/ murder suspect) that they’d want to do something to keep her from reaching up to the front of the car and potentially hurting the officer(s).

  5. Hampus says

    If a policeman accidentally shoots a bystander during a robbery, are the robbers still held accountable for the death of the bystander?

      • Yes, this was covered during the bank robbery discussion with the dead child killed by the guard; if they hadn’t been attempting a crime, the gun wouldn’t have been fired.

        • Yeah, speaking as a bleeding-heart lefty, I have a hard time urging restraint in prosecuting people who actually did something wrong. At least, as log as they’re being prosecuted for the wrong things they did

  6. Dhamon says

    What I want to know is, if a cop purposely kills one of the accomplices, Steve still gets charged with murder 2 for that death? Double whammy, friend is dead and the cop who shot him places the blame on her!

    • Yes, assuming that the killing was somehow legally justified on the police’s side. I would imagine that in any case where the officer would get qualified immunity, i.e. didn’t violate clearly established law in doing what he did, Steve would definitely be guilty of the murder.

      Otherwise, probably not, because the homicide likely wouldn’t be considered “caused by” the crime. For example, I doubt Steve would be considered guilty of murder if Archie had actually surrendered and the shop owner had proceeded to beat him to death anyway. Though I’m not totally sure about that case.

      • According to the statute we read for the fictional state of Fremont, it doesn’t sound like the cop has to be justified in shooting the robber, he just has to be attempting to prevent the crime (or flight therefrom). If the cop’s shooting was unjustified, I would assume that both the cop and the surviving accomplice(s) would be charged with the death.

        Of course, if the crime is clearly already over (e.g. the suspects are all in custody) and then the cop shoots on of them anyway, then he isn’t trying to prevent the crime, and therefore only the cop is on the hook. (In principle.)

  7. Colin says

    No idea if this is still monitored, but how would the felony murder case apply to the biker brawl that just happened down in Texas? 9 people dead. Could the other ~170 people arrested trigger the felony murder rule?

    • I’m not a Texas lawyer, so don’t take this as gospel, but my understanding is that Texas has a fairly broad rule — not limited to murder, but any felony committed by a fellow participant.

      IIRC, if you and some buddies are trying to commit Crime A in Texas, and one of them goes off and commits Crime B, then all of you are guilty of crime B. Your intent is irrelevant. All that matters is that Crime B was committed in furtherance of y’all’s unlawful purpose, and it could have been reasonably anticipated.

      An argument can certainly be made that a bunch of one-percenters getting in a brawl could reasonably anticipate that some of them might start shooting or stabbing. Again, I’m no Texas lawyer, but from a safe distance it sure seems like the members of each gang could be charged with the killings done by members of their MC. And a creative DA might even say both clubs acted in concert to commit the brawl, and so charge everyone with all the killings regardless of who done it.

      Any actual Texans want to chime in on this one?

  8. Ann Onymous says

    Why didn’t she get handcuffed??
    Also, I feel sorry for her. :( She participated in a crime out of youthful naivety and foolishness, and now two of her friends are dead as a result. :( :( I’d bet that’s a more horrible consequence for her than any prison sentence could ever be. Although, at least she wasn’t the one to *suggest* the crime, because she would feel much, MUCH more guilty if she had.
    Also, was the guy who killed Archie justified in doing so? A teen was picking up a gun to maybe shoot him, so he hit him with a baseball bat. Were Archie’s actions threatening enough to justify deadly force? Did the guy mean to kill him (probably not?)? Did he think a bat wouldn’t be deadly?

    • The guy who killed Archie was absolutely justified. You’re reaching for a gun while robbing a store? It’s pretty reasonable to expect you’re going to shoot the witnesses- leaving aside a lot of other specific laws that tend to support the storeowner’s actions in many states.

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