Burglar Shot Dead in Self-Defense, Accomplices Charged With Felony Murder

indianapolis burgal shot killed

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As the firearms community knows well, the United States doesn’t do things quite the same way other nations do. One controversial principle, some form of which exists in most U.S. jurisdictions, is the felony murder doctrine, which concerns accomplice liability.

Accomplice liability is exactly what you’d think: If you and your buddy break into a house and your buddy gets shot dead by the homeowner or the cops, your buddy’s death is partially your fault, and you can be charged with felony murder.

That’s exactly what happened this past Friday in Indianapolis after three men burglarized a home on the city’s southeast side and got caught. The group actually broke into the home twice: First, during the day on Thursday, and didn’t get caught in the act. The home is listed for sale, and the residents aren’t currently living there.

The burglars got themselves in trouble, though, when they came back for a second helping around 6:30pm. (Apparently, they’d left a very obvious pile of ‘stuff to come back for later’ in the middle of the floor). At that point, the homeowner had already found someone willing to stay in the house to catch the thieves in case they returned.

The burglars did, in fact, return, at which point the first one who attempted to force entry was shot by the person inside. The other two subsequently fled, one on foot and one in a vehicle, leaving their friend to die of a gunshot wound.

Benjamin Gardner, 47 (left) Kevin Lemaster, 40 (right) via IMPD

That’s cold, although unsurprising. But is it cold-blooded murder? That question will be answered when the two accomplices, who have now been arrested and charged with felony murder, stand trial.

comments

  1. avatar NORDNEG says:

    Good,,, the castle doctrine should be the law of the land… period…!

  2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Burglary, yes. Murder, no.

    Were the burglars even armed?

    1. avatar C.S. says:

      I agree with this. It’s one thing to charge them if one of the criminals committed murder… it’s another to charge them for dying from a defensive homicide. I guess this counts as a “murder” in the gungrabber’s statistics?

      1. avatar little horn says:

        its guilt by association. which our government can not get enough of AND is precisely the platforms run during the presidential campaign, on BOTH sides.

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Also, how can the same killing be ruled a justifiable homicide AND a felony murder at the same time?

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Just like this, that’s how, and it happens all the time. They voluntarily elected to participate in a felony. If the shooter’s gun had blown up and killed *him*, all 3 would be prosecuted for felony murder. Excellent!

        2. avatar Broke_It says:

          Gov, your question blew my mind. It’s like the Schrödinger’s cat of criminal fuck ups. It both is and is not felony murder in a state of quantum superposition. The real problem is by observing it we change the outcome.

        3. avatar Pmac says:

          Depends on which side of the felony you’re on. You’re the get away driver in a bank robbery. Does this mean you only get charged with traffic offenses? Of course not. Same principle. In Florida if someone is killed during the commission of a felony, good guy, bad guy, or bystander, all suspects catch a homicide charge of one degree or another.

        4. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Pmac, in the case of the getaway driver, he was a willing participant in the robbery, so yes, he’s guilty of robbery. Now if he knows his partners are armed and may shoot someone, then he’s also culpable in the murder, although I don’t think he’s as guilty as the person who actually pulled the trigger. So he shouldn’t be charged to the same degree as the shooter. Maybe manslaughter instead of first degree murder. On the other hand, if he believed his partners were using fake guns, incapable of killing someone, but one of them brings a real gun to the crime, then, IMHO, he is not guilty in the killing. And if I were on the jury I would vote that way. I believe in punishing people for what they’re guilty of, not what they aren’t.

        5. avatar Felix says:

          Because “murder” and “homicide” are two different words.

        6. avatar Pmac says:

          Gov, the accomplice is charged with a lesser homicide charge. At least where I live. Second degree murder or various degrees of manslaughter. Toy gun defense? You’re kidding right? “I thought my partner had a toy gun!” That would be every codefendent’s story.

        7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Some jurisdictions charge the accomplice the same as the actual shooter.

          Yes, convincing the jury that you thought they had toy guns would be a hard sell. A better example would be where the accomplice didn’t know his partner had a gun. Either way, I was making the assumption that the accused story is believable.

        8. avatar auld soldier says:

          It’s known as a “legal fiction” (google it!). Many years ago – the details of which have faded from memory – one defendant was acquitted of offering the bribe that his co-conspirator was convicted of accepting.

        9. avatar Sam I Am says:

          ” auld soldier commented on Burglar Shot Dead in Self-Defense, Accomplices Charged With Felony Murder.”

          “in response to Gov. William J Le Petomane:”

          “Also, how can the same killing be ruled a justifiable homicide AND a felony murder at the same time?”

          “It’s known as a “legal fiction” (google it!). Many years ago – the details of which have faded from memory – one defendant was acquitted of offering the bribe that his co-conspirator was convicted of accepting.”

          The felony murder and the defensive shooting are two separate events. In the self-defense scenario, the defender committed a homicide, which is a crime. The defender could be charged with homicide, and brought to trial on that crime. The defender is not exempt simply because the shooting was in self-defense. The prosecutor, in many jurisdictions, must prove the shooting was not justifiable (the prosecutor may also decide to not pursue any charges). Thus, the defender is at risk of conviction.

          The felony murder charge is a completely separate charge that is dependent on an instigating event (the burglary in a private residence). Without the burglary, there would have been no defensive shooting, and no subsequent felony murder. If the burglar had killed the defender, the burglar, and associates could be charged for both burglary AND murder. Both charges stemming from a single event.

          Homicide.

          Felony murder

          Two separate events, single root cause.

      3. Yes, by prosecuting it as a murder, it lets the gun-grabbers count this self-defense shooting as a “gun murder” in their “gun violence” statistics, and cite it as a reason to ban guns.
        They’ll count it among the “30,000 acts of gun violence” and the “10,000+ gun murders” rather than among self-defense shootings, what we POTG call DGUs.

        Gun-grabbers might even count this death twice, because prosecutors called it both a “murder” and as a “self-defense shooting”, so chances are the statistics will “accidentally” double in this incident to two deaths from “gun violence.” Prosecuting it as a murder allows gun-grabbers to cite it in their murder statistics, and to gun-grabbers (most politicians of both parties), this is not a bug in the system, it’s a feature!

    2. avatar bill knight says:

      In FL at least, it does not matter, only that someone died during the commission of a felony, victim or perp

      1. avatar Angry Dad says:

        Or, as in other places, a cop is among those killed, even if shot by another cop. It’s the idea that the perps started this felonious shitstorm, and so any deaths reasonably foreseeable to result therefrom, such as a cop responding, or a homeowner shooting, are for their account. I like the rule, one of many originating in the Common Law and the auld sod, ‘though I used to be annoyed by the logical conundrums earlier, I like the intent and result now. Not that bad guys discuss or think about this before hand, but as societal cleanup, it helps.

    3. Under Indiana Law it is not necessary for them to have been armed. The very fact that they are committing a Felony ie: Burglary of an Occupied Dwelling qualifies for the charge of murder being lodged against them and that is what happened. This not an optional charge by the way the DA does not have the option to charge or not to charge, they will be charged and the DA will be required to prosecute them for that charge. You may disagree with the law but then if you live in IN you can make an effort vis-a-via your legislature to change it, otherwise live with it.

    4. avatar R Vincent Warde says:

      It is important to recognize the legal theory behind the felony murder rule. It is assumed that all participants in a felony are aware of the possibility that someone may die as a result of their actions. Therefore, any who survive can be held responsible. In most jurisdictions they may be charged with first degree murder.

      I understand why some may think this harsh – but IMHO, the accomplices here must bear responsibility for the man’s death. Perhaps they should be held to answer for a lesser crime, such as manslaughter, but they should be called to account for their part in his death.

      Imagine is you were the mother of a young man talked into a crime by older, or even just a more dominant accomplice – and your, say 18 year old, son is dead. That is why the rule exists.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I understand the theory, but what happens if we take that to the next step. It is assumed that everyone who gets in a car knows that someone may die as a result of their actions. So if you’re a passenger in a car that gets in an accident and someone dies as a result, you are culpable in the death. Sounds completely absurd, but he only difference here is that burglary is illegal and driving cars is not. So criminal charges wouldn’t be appropriate, but what if you were named in a wrongful death suit because you were a passenger in the car? The theory is absurd.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Oh, please….

          The “felony murder” laws apply only to criminal acts (and being associated with). Being a passenger in a car that is not involved in criminal acts does not rise to a crime.

          As for being in a car, not knowing a crime is being committed, such circumstance is difficult to not detect. If someone asks for a driver to stop at an address, and a passenger goes into a structure and quietly commits a murder, then returns to the vehicle without any passengers being killed, one might have an exceptional situation. In the case presented, the associates were aware of the crime, and were present at the scene of the crime. There is nothing reported that indicates the associates thought they were going to watch football, and the burglar suddenly broke into a house. Indeed, if the article is correct, the associates were well aware they were going into a house to remove items from the scene of a crime.

          The associates had free will to not become involved in the burglary. The associates had free will to call police once they became aware of the intent of the primary burglar. The associates were not just innocent bystanders sitting in a car at the curb, completely unaware of the intent of the burglar. It is unrealistic to expect laws to be written so as to prevent charging someone under the most bizarre of speculative circumstances.

        2. avatar Angry Dad says:

          Law school is the place for your perambulations. Please attend, and then after three years of such, tell us what you’ve learned, or the unjust laws you’ve made just. Til then, alpha mike foxtrot.

  3. avatar Squire says:

    Felony murder is absolutely wrong

    1. avatar Tom T says:

      Nope. They committed an illegal act knowing the potential for violence, and their actions contributed to the killing. At the very least they should be charged with manslaughter, but murder works too.

      1. avatar Neil says:

        They should be charged. Their actions killed someone. About time there was a law on the side of the good person with a gun.

      2. avatar yolo says:

        people have been put to death because of these stupid laws. the logic falls apart because now ANYTHING that happens during a crime is your fault. Only your imagination is the limit. Most people think like I do(non-neanderthals), we are getting rid of this law soon in Texas so I am not too worried arguing with the old guys here.

        1. avatar Pmac says:

          Yolo, let’s take my above example a little further. Three bad guys enter a bank. Bad gun #1 is armed and murders your offspring. Bad guy #2, unarmed, empties the cash drawer. Bad guy #3, unarmed, is the lookout. Oh, bad guy #4, unarmed, is the get away driver. They are all arrested after a brief pursuit and felony traffic stop. #1 charged with homicide and armed robbery. Capital felony. Death or life without parole. Justice served. #2 charged with grand theft. Depending on criminal history he gets two or three years. If that. After all he wasn’t armed. #3 walks away. He was only looking out the window. #4 speeding ticket. Maybe reckless driving. Satisfied? For the death of your child?

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “…now ANYTHING that happens during a crime is your fault.”

          And???

          Choose to participate in crime, get the blame for every element of the crime. How is that unjust?

        3. avatar Mike H in WA says:

          ^^^Bingo.

          “…now ANYTHING that happens during a crime is your fault…”

          …because it *IS* your fault. None of this would have happened if you hadn’t decided to commit the felony, and it would *NOT* have happened had you chosen to follow the law. A reasonable person would have entertained the possibility that bad things could happen and the robbery could go awry in one way or the other.

          If your actions directly lead to a homicide, and you reasonably should have been aware that that was a possibility, that homicide is on you.

        4. avatar Angry Dad says:

          You’re wrong as can be about the worthiness of this law, but you have precisely grasped its essence: you are responsible for any death occurring during a (usually violent, or otherwise very bad, like burglary) felonly. You have it! My response: too bad. Go back to shilling for BLM and against ‘mass incarceration’.

    2. avatar George from Alaska says:

      Respectfully disagree. Their premeditated burglary contributed to the death of their accomplice. Law says they are guilty of some kind of murder.

  4. avatar Gadsden says:

    There’s absolutely nothing controversial at all with accomplice liability. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  5. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    Why is it that some other collections are so bugged when we in the U S choose to do something differently? Why are some of us?

    It’s like they lack the courage of their confusions convictions.

  6. avatar Huntmaster says:

    I’ surprised they didn’t charge the guy who waited for them to come back. He probably couldn’t claim to be living there. Realistically he was just waiting to ambush the burglars. Not saying I’m shedding any tears for the crooks.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      The only wrinkle might be if the homeowner did not call police when he discovered the first break in and opted for an armed guard instead. Now he has the right to protect his property with armed guards but if a crime ( B and E, robbery) was discovered he may have a duty to report it before assigning an armed guard.

      Ultimately the three turds should have taken what they found and split not return to the scene of the crime but we are talking about felon level people here.

      1. avatar Ridgy says:

        Felon level people are running the country and many major corporations. They just lack the neck tattoos and are able to hide their actions behind an appearance of respectability. These guys have to do their crimes in person and can’t obscure them with paperwork and legalese. Cheating and stealing is still cheating and stealing.

        Then there’s the felons who are such only by virtue of their state of residence and their refusal to surrender or register legally purchased possessions when they go out of favor with the ruling elties.

      2. avatar Jonathan Speegle says:

        When you think or “feel” for that matter that defending any property is overstepping, you are the problem. You are the juror that will let a criminal walk to harm again. You are the person who is ok with a rape because its not your daughter. YOU are the problem. And you should be ashamed.

        1. avatar Ridgy says:

          If one is caught comitting a crime they’re exposing themselves to the repercussions. I have no problem with the outcome of this incident. Where did I say I did?

          The point I had was that ‘felon’ applies to so many more than just these garden variety numbskulls. These guys chose a stupid invasive criminal path and ended up self identifying to someone who was in the position to out an immediate end to it. What was that line about stupid people and places?

      3. avatar Icabod says:

        Arguably, the guard was there with the homeowners permission and knowledge.
        Odds are good that the police were called but, as is often the case, only took a report. The bugary of a vacant house in the daytime isn’t going to get the CSI treatment.
        The dead perp was caught commiting a felony. While the media reports don’t go into detail about the events of the shooting the police give no indication that it was a bad shoot.

      4. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I would agree that the police should have been notified, I suspect that they not only were notified but suggested to the homeowner that the burglars looked to be coming back (due to the pile of stuff to get later), he might want to defend his home.

  7. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    Personal self defense, no duty to retreat, presuming folks not invited in should maybe stay out, felony murder.

    We keep acting like crime victims also have rights. No wonder it confuses the overlords.

    Next, we’ll be wanting to make some of our own choices for ourselves.

    1. avatar Patrick H says:

      Accused felons absolutely have rights, right up until conviction (And some rights even beyond).

      It’s called “The Constitution”.

      1. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

        Indeed. It’s like there’s this big pile of, er, “people”, and “the people” have certain rights across the board.

  8. avatar GS650G says:

    In england the homeowner and guard would be in chains.
    In New Jersey the guard would be required to exit out the back and call for help
    In most other places, play stupid games win stupid prizes like these dolts.

  9. avatar HoundDogDave says:

    I’ve got no problem with that law. If the other two were innocent they would have gone straight to the cops to report that they were helping a friend (say, move some furniture or something) and their buddy was shot at “X address” and they ran for help. Play stupid games, Win stupid prizes. Maybe they didn’t win first prize but they deserve a participation trophy of 20 to life.

  10. avatar possum says:

    I think that is a bullshit law. You chose to go thieving and I don’t see how your death is your partners fault. Same as being drunk and crawling in a car full of drunks. You chose the risk.

    1. avatar Gordon in MO says:

      As written in my state and the others are probably an approximation of this:

      It allows a defendant to be charged with first-degree murder for a killing that occurs during a felony, even if the defendant is not the killer.

      The knowingly committed a felony during which someone lost their life. By definition, it is felony murder. Neither the original intent nor possession of arms (or not) changes it. The life would not have been lost if they had not committed the felony.

  11. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    Play stupid games and you’ll win stupid prizes!

    BTW, “Conspiracy” is the other crime that many other countries do not charge.

  12. avatar Lance says:

    I don’t really see the problem with the whole felony murder thing. It mostly discourages accomplices and places responsibility of death on the right people (the criminals).

    Where does this empathy for violent actors come from? It doesn’t make one moral. In actuality, its immoral to give empathy or mercy to those who don’t deserve it. There are things that you don’t need a written law to tell you not to do…

  13. avatar NJ2AZ says:

    felony murder is a weird thing. If a group engages in a felony and one member kills an innocent person, i’m fine charging the whole lot with whatever. If a group engages in a felony and one of them eats it..i’m not necessarily against felony murder charges but i’m not sure i’m in favor of them either.

    hard to have a consistent opinion on this

  14. avatar Gregolas says:

    The Felony Murder Rule comes to us from the Roman Republc, where it was conceived as a means to deter criminal gangs committing night-time violent crimes. It’s a good law. We will never know its deterrent effect, but it is certainly good for putting and keeping “Me too” idiots, gangbangers, etc., in jail for extremely long sentences. One of the first things you learn in criminal law practice, is that some people are too stupid to be free, and prison is the best place for them and everyone else.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I agree that it is a good policy, but at the same time it results in unfairness. The classic California case involved the getaway driver. Two perps went into the corner liquor store, the owner opens up on them, killing one of the perps. The surviving thief pleads out and gets fifteen years. The driver pleads not guilty, goes to trial, gets convicted under the felony-murder rule, and gets life even though he was not armed nor directly involved int he robbery gone bad. The California Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence.

      1. avatar Broke_It says:

        You crack me up. Of course the driver got his. He was the wheel man in a premeditated crime. I think I kind of understand your thought process of he never went in/didn’t foresee the outcome. It has no bearing tho, he isn’t a “better” man since he didn’t go in the store as well. He is a criminal participating in a crime with other criminals. For once the system gets it right.

      2. avatar rosignol says:

        How is the getaway driver ‘not directly involved’?

      3. avatar Mike H in WA says:

        The getaway driver could have potentially gotten less than the surviving thief (“I was only the getaway driver!”) if he chose to admit to his wrongdoing i.e. plead out. He chose to go to court and argue that he was innocent. Want to roll the dice like that? Cool, but you need to accept the consequences. It isn’t like he didn’t know that that was a possibility when he decided to fight the charges.

  15. avatar rt66paul says:

    So, all the kids that are watching a street race, where one of the racers gets killed, are to be charged with murder?

    No, I think not.

    1. avatar Tom T says:

      Watching does not make you an active participant, and speeding is not a felony (the standard required to apply this law).

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Tom T.,

        I have a sneaking suspicion that driving a car 100 M.P.H. on a city street where the speed limit is 35 M.P.H. is, indeed, a felony.

        What I just described is

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          … what I just described is equivalent to closing your eyes, spinning around in a circle several times, and shooting a firearm in a random direction in the city. If that is a felony, street racing should be a felony as well.

          I describe both examples as wreckless endangerment. (I am not sure if which, if any states, actually have that wording as a law. I suspect most states have something equivalent.)

        2. avatar Pmac says:

          Vehicular homicide is a felony. However, the driver is responsible. Street race? Perhaps the other driver as well. Maybe the organizer too. Audience? No.

  16. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Burglars who rob a place are guilty of burglary or robbery. People who assist the burglar taking property are accomplices to the burglar, even if the assistants actually remove no property. The assistants could be charged with as both a burglar and an accomplice. Either way, the assistants made a conscience choice. Companions of the burglar who remain outside the location, and only wait on the burglar can be charged as accomplices.

    So, if you can be charged with the original crime because you assist (in any way), you made an intentional decision to not abandon the primary lawbreaker. If you are unwittingly at a location with the burglar, and upon recognizing illegal activity you depart and notify police, you just might escape being an accomplice.

    In the case as presented, the two assistants/friends/companions were fully aware of unlawful entry and theft of property. Making a conscious decision to participate put them at risk of the full range of criminal charges that can arise. As an accomplice, each of the assistants/companions made free will decisions, just as they had free will to not participate. “Felony murder” is just.

    If criminals don’t like being held fully responsible for the results of criminal acts of another, criminals can work to have the laws changed via the political system.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Even easier, they can refrain from criminal conspiracies!

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Even easier, they can refrain from criminal conspiracies!”

        Indeed, indeed.

        And I still don’t think Patty Hearst was innocent.

        1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

          “And I still don’t think Patty Hearst was innocent.”

          Patty Hearst, heard the burst, of Roland’s Thompson gun and…

          Bought it…

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      “Castle doctrine” says discussions are unnecessary. Not your house + walk in uninvited = adios mofo.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Shit. That was intended reply to Tommy Jay, below. Edit button, please.

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        LarryinTX,

        Not your house + walk in uninvited = adios mofo.

        Don’t hold back Larry — tell us what you are really thinking.

      3. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Castle doctrine” says discussions are unnecessary. Not your house + walk in uninvited = adios mofo.”

        It would seem “stand your ground” would prevail also; shooter was legally present.

        Wonder if the defense lawyer will appeal to “lying in wait”?

        1. I live in Colorado, come into my home uninvited and You will find out if there is life after death.

  17. avatar TommyJay says:

    I don’t think we have enough information. Did the robbers issue threats of violence to the resident? Or did they do something other than enter or try to enter that might indicate an intent to do violence? I should think that something like that did happen otherwise the shooter would have been charged.

    If there was some intent to do violence, then I say go for the murder charges. I do think that it is a tiny bit unfair, but unfair stuff happens to victims (after the crime) all the time.

    Look at Chris Heuss’ crime data from a few days ago. I believe something like 40 to 50% of criminals either don’t bring a gun to a crime, or if they do, they have a moderately low probability of serious injury or fatality with it. Why? Because many of them understand they’re going to seriously elevate their time in prison, if they get caught. Statistically, I’d guess this is a substantial advantage that the armed defender has over the armed criminal. Tough laws work at least partially, if they’re enforced.

    1. avatar Ken says:

      Breaking and entering to commit a crime (burglary) is generally considered a violent crime under federal and most state statutes. The threat of violence to an occupant would be considered a separate violent crime but the burglary itself is a “violent crime” in and of itself.

      1. avatar Perry says:

        Likely depends on the state. In Colorado, it’s “Make My Day.”* We are assumed to be sleepy, defending our home against invaders. No need to retreat. Inhabitants authorized by the Owner are OK.

        *YMMV if not in CO. Local restrictions may apply, not valid in all 50 states. It’s very important to read ALL of your state’s law regarding use of lethal force.

  18. avatar Bill in OR says:

    As stated earlier a problem may arise because the homeowner wasn’t the person protecting his property. Would probably depend on whether the ‘guard’ was being paid to protect, was licensed (if it is required) or a myriad of other things a prosecutor might come up with. Would he call it an ambush? The owner knew they were coming back. Could get sticky.

    All that said, I agree. The ‘Play stupid games, win stupid prizes’ rule applies here.

  19. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I guess they did this since felony dumbass isn’t on the books.

    DAs live to get more colonies under their belt.

    Political criminal prosecution.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Felonies not colonies – lol

      Ha. Maybe that’s not far off.

  20. avatar CLarson says:

    If one police officer shoots an innocent person in a raid on the wrong house does the entire team gets punished? I am ok with legal collective punishment if it applies to State agents and politicians too. Otherwise this looks like more creeping tyranny.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “If one police officer shoots an innocent person in a raid on the wrong house does the entire team gets punished?”

      Equity and justice demand the entire command structure be charged.

    2. avatar Perry says:

      Sovereign Immunity. English Common Law.

      Yes, it’s true, and it sucks.

  21. avatar yolo says:

    its clearly not murder, but all the super-old guys on here will argue that any criminal deserves to be thrown into the sun regardless of circumstance. once in a while i am reminded of how the other side sees us: a group of very old and very stupid guys and sometimes they are right.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      “Clearly not murder”, huh? Let me explain something. “Murder” is a term which has a legal definition as a crime, without the definition it is meaningless. It is defined by the law which prosecutes it, therefore it is “clearly” nothing at all. The law says this act is felony murder, therefor it is felony murder whether you think it is “clearly” something else, or not. You are clearly not accustomed to thinking.

      1. avatar RobinGoodfellow says:

        Boy, that was off the top rope … with the elbow!

        Good comment.

    2. avatar Broke_It says:

      What on earth are you on about? There’s defined constructs within law and then there’s your application of sloppy english to those very defined words and concepts. How does that make us all old and stupid? Stupid is running with a crew that has you committing crimes with them and then crying foul when it all falls to shit. I say good on them for having the tools to slap these clowns with felony murder.

  22. avatar enuf says:

    “Accomplice Liability” makes perfect sense. The homeowner being justified in shooting to death the bad guy is a different question.

    We’ve heard of cases before where a homeowner was charged with murder for laying in wait, for setting a trap with the intent to spring it and kill. I can see the problems in such an action.

    The guarding of your property with no attempt to bait and spring a trap is not laying in wait. The homeowner and the guard did not place valuables out to attract a criminal. They were not hunting humans. They observed the damage done and the potential for a repeat illegal act and prepared a defense.

    That is justified. It is even admirable.

  23. avatar Broke_It says:

    The words “force entry” leave a lot to the imagination of the reader. I would take that as they pressed on after encountering locked barriers and possibly words with the occupant. The more I think about it the more it seems this is a Roarschach test of the psyche of blog readers.

  24. avatar Robert T Nelsen says:

    Entering what they thought was an empty house to get some piled up swag, isn’t a death penalty offence.

    1. avatar Broke_It says:

      You might want to ask the guy who ate it about that. Also, penalties come after conviction of a crime. This was a reaction to a rapidly unfolding situation, no time for penalties. All is just as the survivors will have to face penalties, in this case felony murder.

    2. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “Entering what they thought was an empty house to get some piled up swag, isn’t a death penalty offence.”

      Based on what rule of law?

      Are you aware that if one of the burglars had simply argued and shot the prime burglar, the second accomplice would be subject to a felony murder charge?

  25. avatar James W Crawford says:

    If they were out on bail during the burglary, the homeowner should file suit against whoever bailed them out of jail then failed to supervise them.

  26. avatar jakee308 says:

    They saw that someone had already been in the house and they left someone to wait for them to come back?

    Did they call the police? If not this sounds like a laying in wait and the owners could be liable. (I’m not happy about that i’m just looking at the facts).

    You can’t set lethal or even non lethal traps for people who break in to your property. You can’t sit and wait for someone to come back for their second load. That’s lying in wait.

    Now IF they called the cops first and the cops didn’t do anything or hadn’t got around to doing anything then that would be defense.

  27. avatar Nanashi says:

    “Mercy to the Guilty is Cruelty to the Innocent.”

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      That makes no sense. Is the victim the shooter or the shootee? And if it’s the shooter, then is he still the victim if the shootee was unarmed? Did he even breech the door or was he still outside when he was shot? The accused is presumably a burglar and should be tried and if convicted sentenced to an appropriate sentence for burglary. When he gets out in 10 years, hopefully he’ll remember that robbing homes is a good way to get your head blown off.

  28. avatar Racer88 says:

    Felony murder law is the best law ever. Really.

  29. avatar Chiefton says:

    I am a retired LEO from Michigan. We had the same Felony/Murder law the entire time I worked. I saw it used numerous times during my day and it withstood many appeals for the same reasons mentioned. I have seen the exact same circumstances stand up under appeal. Bottom line, under the felony/murder laws, if you are committing any felony and there is a death during the commision of the felony to include a person dying of a heart attack or otherwise, you can be convicted of felony/murder.

  30. avatar Randy says:

    If you make the decision to commit a crime then you are responsible for all things that come from that decision. The criminal assumes all risks associated with that act which includes possibly being killed. If their accomplice is killed they are still culpable, as it all started with the decision to commit the crime. Breaking and entering and taking the property of another person should be a risky business.

  31. avatar AZgunner says:

    I love the felony murder rule. If you’re out knowingly committing felonies, anything we have to put you away for longer is a win in my book.

  32. avatar bud says:

    While I condone property owners shooting people to defend their own property, if one of the perps didnt actually murder the other perp, then logically, he didnt commit murder. Giving out murder charges like candy is a dangerous game. You may think, “theyre dirtbags, who cares?” but, like everything else, It’s going to work around into taking away american’s rights. i.e. “You sold a gun in a private sale, and the guy ends up committing a crime with it? Youre guilty of that crime too.” There are a whole host of other examples you can deduce with a little creativity. Not to mention that “murder” is a legal term. The home owner killed the intruder in defense, he didn’t “murder” anyone, so if the homeowner didn’t murder anyone, and the other perps didnt murder anyone, then using the charge of “murder” simply dilutes the definition of “murder”, and that’s a permanent psychological, societal change. If enough of these happen, over time, and given enough public awareness, the definition of murder would eventually change from “malicious taking of life” to “malicious taking of life, or ‘things’ other than maliciously taking a life”. Hopefully you understand my point. It’s the same legal subversion they used to implement the felony system, which was done on purpose, to hurt the United States. ie. a guy that breaks into people’s houses and rapes their grandmas at knife point is a felon, and also, a guy that writes counterfeit checks is also a felon. Pretty soon you get full prisons and people who are rapists get early release back into population because of felony release quotas. This is all a part of the complexity of marxism btw. If the public would just enforce the constitution on officials, by force, none of this would ever happen.

  33. avatar 22winmag says:

    Some half-assed prosecutor looking to get a name for himself and get into politics- tries to pull a legal stunt and charge the fleeing burglars with murder.

    It will never stick, but the prosecutor will be seen as tough on crime, endorsed by the police unions, and elected to the White House.

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