Felony Murder Rule Criminal Law 2/19/2009 Melissa Bohling | Felony Murder Rule Many are upset and want the felony murder rule abolished. In California there is a case of Brandon Hein. He got drunk with some friends one night and the group of boys got into a fight with another boy. The boy got stabbed and died. Brandon was not the killer. However, even though the boy that did the stabbing confessed, he was not charged.
Instead Brandon was charged and was sentenced to life in prison for doing an average teenage act; drinking. The felony murder rule was applied for in this case and was granted. Brandon was eighteen years old at the time the drunken fight and stabbing took place. He will never get the chance at parole. The boy who did the stabbing gets to go free. Brandon had no prior record (NY Daily News. 2008). The felony murder rule is a violation of human rights. Another case in Florida happened in 2003. Ryan Holle was hung over from a party the night before and wanted to go to sleep.
His roommate wanted to borrow the car to “get some food” so Ryan let him as he had many times before. While Ryan was in bed passed out from drinking, the roommate borrowed the car and ended up committing a robbery and killed a woman. But Ryan, who also had no prior record, was charged and sentenced to life with no possibility of parole (NY Daily News, 2008). What about the roommate who committed the act? Nothing. The felony murder rule comes from the English Common Law. The parliament did away with it in 1957. In 1990, Canada did the same (NY Daily News, 2008).
The felony murder rule was brought about in England in the twelfth century. The United States adopted this rule in the eighteenth century. The rule is applied to those that commit an act unintentionally. There is no intent to cause harm (Meadows, 2006). Even though it was done away with in the United Kingdom as of 1957, it is still law with the federal government in many states. “Felony murder rule — perpetrator responsible for committing or found to be involved in a serious felony during which another person dies as a result of that felony. The rule applies even if one does not personally or directly ause a person’s death” (Meadows, 2006). It does not matter if a person committed the crime, if a person were in any way connected, whether through property or knowledge of, they were also responsible as seen in the beginning of this paper. The felony murder rule came about to stop violent crimes that death may be the result. “Jurisdictions apply for the felony murder rule as any death which occurs during the commission of certain specified felonies is murder in the first degree and all the participants in that felony or attempted felony can be charged and found guilty of murder” (Meadows, 2006).
California Penal Code Section 189 states that “murder perpetrated by means of a destructive device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, knowing use of ammunition designed to penetrate metal or armor, poison, lying in wait, torture, or attempt to penetrate, arson, rape, carjack, robbery, burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, sex offenses, and firearms discharging from a vehicle is murder in the first degree” (Meadows, 2006). California does have the death penalty and life in prison with no parole for murder. Some get twenty – five years to life.
American Law Institute Model Penal Code is robbery, rape, forcible sexual intercourse, arson, burglary, kidnapping, felony escapes, terrorism, and carjacking fall under the felony murder rule (Meadows, 2006). Some believe this felony murder rule violates the Eight Amendment of cruel and unusual punishments. All persons connected are involved in the charge even if they had nothing to do with the crime. Some cases involved in the felony murder rule are: Enmund v. Florida (1982) is about a United States Supreme court ruling of the death penalty. Jackson v.
State (1979) is about robbery and a hostage situation that ended up as a murder, and Tison v. Arizona (1987), which are about three brothers who broke their father out of prison and ended up in a killing spree. (All of which shall be in my presentation of power point). A few articles were found under the felony murder rule. The first one is an article from Winston-Salem Journal (2009). On January 29, in Independence, VA an Ashe county man was convicted of five counts of capital murder and eleven other felonies. He murdered the owner and employees of a Christmas tree farm.
There hasn’t been a trial set up yet but it is said to last four to six weeks once it is set. The prosecution wants the death penalty, but the judge needs to review the motion due to the defense saying that the death penalty in Virginia is unconstitutional. This next article comes from the Daily Gazette (2008). On October 7, in Galesburg, IL a man is awaiting trial for murder. A forensic psychiatrist has been brought in to evaluate the defendant. The doctor has thirty days for the evaluation and must send the final report to the judge.
The man is charged with seven felonies as well as ten counts of murder in the first degree. He also is faced with the death penalty. The report came back and the defendant is fit for trial and wishes to represent himself. He has sent an application for a gag order to bar his attorneys from talking to the public and also to have them dismissed from the trial. He is upset that his attorneys had filed for the competency review. The third case is from the Appeal – Democrat (2008). On June 28, the defense has sent a motion to keep all Yolo County judges from this case.
It is a case of a cop killer. Marco Antonio Topete was charged with killing the Yolo County Sheriff deputy, Tony Diaz. The defendant also has been charged with previous felonies as well as being a gang member and violation of a firearm. The courthouse was shut down so that the other deputies could attend the trial. Following the hearing was the deputy’s funeral. The last article is about a Navy sailor who is charged with the murder of a Newport News reporter who stole his guns. This article comes from the Daily Press (2008). The sailor was stationed on the USS George Washington.
On June 19, he fired his gun at a man who was a reporter from the Newport News. The prosecution wants to put the Navy man away for forty-five years (forty-two for murder and three for using a gun as a felon). The man that was shot was said to have broken in to the apartment of the sailor and had taken two guns out of the residence. The sailor and two other men went to the house of the reporter. There the sailor saw his guns that had been stolen. The man was then drug out of his house and into the woods, where he was killed execution style.
Even though the other two men were found with the Navy sailor, the Navy man was the only one held responsible. In Des Moines, Iowa the prosecutor John Sarcone would like to see the felony murder rule back in action. They want the Supreme Court to review the Heemstra case, which is about a man who was convicted in 2004. This case went to the Supreme Court in 2008. Since he was only convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was back on the streets within four years, the prosecutor would like the felony murder rule to be reinstated. He wants the man to be convicted of first degree murder.
Since Mr. Sarcone’s arguments he now has instructions for jury when it comes time to a felony first degree murder case. The text book Criminal Law has a legal equation for felony murder: Felony murder = killing of another + Intent to commit during a felony + Killing during perpetration of a dangerous felony + Caused by a felon or felon as consequences of a felony (Lippman, 2006). Becker, T. (2008, October 7). Courts pick doctor for Sheley review. The Daily Gazette, pp. 1-2. Retrieved from http://web. ebscohost. com Boshart, R. (2008). Prosecutors want felony-murder rule returned.
Retrieved February 19, 2009, from Prosecutors want felony-murder rule returned Web site: http://www. globegazette. com Dujardin, P. (2008, June 19). Jury recommends 45-year sentence: A Navy sailor is convicted of murdering a Newport News man who stole his guns. Daily Press, pp. 1-2. Retrieved from http://web. ebscohost. com Grodin, C. (2008, May 8). Felony murder rule should be killed. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from NY Daily News Felony murder rule should be killed Web site: http://www. nydailynews. com Lippman, M. (2007). Homicide. In Criminal Law (p. 405).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Meadows, R. (2006, August 2). Felony Murder Rule. Retrieved February 4, 2009, from Choices, Inc. Reckless Indifference Web site: http://www. choicesvideo. com Mitchell, M. (2009, January 29). Documents sealed in tree-farm killings: Judge in Hammer trial also says he will review death-penalty motion. Winston-Salem Journal, pp. 1-2. Retrieved from http://web. ebscohost. com Yune, H. (2008, June 28). Hearing for accused cop killer abruptly halted: Defense wants all Yolo County judges removed. Appeal-Democrat, pp. 1-2. Retrieved from http://web. ebscohost. com