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.
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.