Judge Dumps Felony Manslaughter Charges Brought Against An Arrestee After A Deputy Ran Over Another Deputy

from the county-prosecutors-apparently-fine-with-turning-justice-into-a-farce dept

Felony murder is a truly bizarre artifact of the American justice system. It’s simply not enough that there are thousands of laws that can be used to charge people who have allegedly broken them. But felony murder (and its offshoots, which include other crimes like manslaughter) allows prosecutors to charge people for crimes they didn’t commit.

It works like this. Two people perform a robbery. One waits in the car. The person inside the business kills someone during the robbery. Prosecutors charge the driver with “felony murder” because they can, arguing that the person’s presence at a crime scene makes them as culpable as the person who actually committed the crime.

It’s ridiculous. But it’s probably never been more ridiculous than this. Idaho resident Jenna Holm was arrested in May of last year following a traffic stop where she waved a machete at deputies and was tased into submission. During this arrest, a deputy arriving at the scene (Sgt. Randy Flagel) struck and killed Deputy Wyatt Maser with his patrol car.

Not content to deal with this unfortunate accident by mourning the officer killed in the line of duty, prosecutors decided to charge the arrestee (who was not driving and did not hit the deputy) with felony involuntary manslaughter, keeping her locked up with a $100,000 bond.

These charges stuck despite an internal investigation by the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office finding that the officers on the scene were almost completely responsible for the accident that killed Deputy Wyatt.

Listed below are the factors contained in the judicial documents. They pertain to actions taken by deputies, Bottcher and Maser in the apprehension of Holm and possibly led to Maser’s death.

  • Deputy Bottcher did not activate his emergency red and blues (vehicle lights).

  • Deputy Bottcher never deploy(ed) his flashlight.

  • Deputy Bottcher gave the wrong location and wrong direction of travel throughout the call.

  • Deputy Maser stopped his vehicle in the lane of traffic with only scene lights turned on with no red or blue emergency lights to the rear.

  • Deputy Maser only used his weapon-mounted flashlight.

  • Deputy Maser, while giving lethal cover to Dep. Bottcher in the Taser deployment, stepped up into the roadway in front of Sgt. Flegel’s vehicle

  • (The vehicle of a witness in the case) was positioned to the right side of his lane with bright lights shining into oncoming traffic.

Once this became public (via Holm’s criminal trial), the Sheriff’s Office finally decided it might spend a little more time training officers on how to handle roadside incidents, especially those that take place after nightfall.

What didn’t happen was any dismissal of charges. Prosecutors still maintained Holm’s combativeness and possession of a machete were criminal acts serious enough to make her culpable for the ensuing deadly accident in which a law enforcement officer killed another law enforcement officer.

Finally, this stupidity is over. The judge handling Holm’s criminal trial has dismissed the felony involuntary manslaughter charge. (h/t Reason)

According to Judge Dane Watkins, the details of this case did not meet the standards for this kind of felony charge. Under state law, there has to be some sort of criminal conspiracy to hit people who didn’t commit crimes with criminal charges. In other words, the deputy who killed the other deputy would have had to have been conspiring with Jenna Holm — the arrestee — to commit some other crime.

“Because the state has not alleged or adduced any facts indicating Sgt. Flegel acted in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate an unlawful act, as part of a common plan with Holm, probable cause does not exist to believe Holm committed involuntary manslaughter,” District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. wrote in his decision.

Prosecutors maintained Holms was responsible because her actions during her arrest caused the officer to cross the road, which resulted in him being run over. There are no words that can completely encompass the stupidity of this argument, but the judge does a pretty good job summing it up:

”The standard the State seeks to impose would permit convictions of involuntary manslaughter in any number of situations where law enforcement responds to any unlawful act (presumably including minor infractions) and a third party kills (accidentally or otherwise) a responding officer or bystander…”

This is good. Better would be eliminating these laws, which makes conspiracy for one crime a conspiracy for all crimes. At best, these laws allow prosecutors to stack charges, making it more likely defendants will accept a plea deal, saving the state the burden of having to prove its allegations. At worst, it’s just a way to inflict misery on people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while interacting with law enforcement.

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Comments on “Judge Dumps Felony Manslaughter Charges Brought Against An Arrestee After A Deputy Ran Over Another Deputy”

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60 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There has to be a initial felony. Under most circumstances, calling the police is not a felony.

A better example would be that someone is reported for felony littering. On the way to the heinous crime, the police cause a traffic delay and someone dies on the way to the hospital. The litterer could then be charged with felony murder.

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Koby (profile) says:

Not So Bizzare

These felony murder rules can be an important tool in certain situations, such as swatting. In the 2017 case of Tyler Barriss, Barriss was found liable for the death of a Kansas man despite not actually pulling the trigger, or even being in the state. Barriss was committing a crime, phoning in a fake shooting and hostage situation to authorities, and got sentenced to over 20 years for his involvement. Tyler Barriss was rightfully convicted, because presence at the scene of a crime is not a requirement for culpability. Knowingly assisting in a criminal act is the proper assessment for guilt.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Not So Bizzare

My general rule of thumb is Vonnegut’s line – “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”

If you spend your time trolling, it doesn’t matter what your intentions are or whether you mean it, you’re a troll. If you spend your life being a disingenuous moron like Koby here, it doesn’t matter whether you are genuine, you’re pretending for the lols or someone’s paying you – you’re a disingenuous moron no matter what.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Not So Bizzare

"These felony murder rules can be an important tool in certain situations, such as swatting."

In much the same way that ethnic cleansing can be an important tool for civic order, you mean?

This is a law which allows courts to charge a person for a crime they neither committed, abetted, or had agency in.

In the example in the op a suspect was charged with murder because one policeman killed another.

Except for the sanity of the judge that’s fully on par with some chinese or russian judge telling a dissenter they’re guilty of terrorism because they publicly spoke out against the government and are thus linked to the mad bomber hitting that city block earlier that day.

You bringing one single example where this law was abused to render an appropriate result is like pointing at someone who, after gunning wildly into a crowd, among the dozen victims hit one pickpocket, and then declare "See? It’s a good thing that gunman did!".

But dare I state I’m not surprised to see your love of law not extending to…eh, a love of actual law.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not So Bizzare

I think that the usual justification is that although the cops’ own stupidity led to them murdering their own, they wouldn’t have been in position to be dangerously incompetent on this occasion had the person not acted in a way that caused them to display their idiocy. Therefore it’s by extension partly her fault.

Of course, this justification doesn’t extend to, say, a person being executed because they tried defending their own home after the murder squad invaded the wrong house. The cops there are still innocent victims.

Sharur says:

Re: Re: Definition

I get what you are going for, but this seems like a bad example: as written, "a crime they neither committed, abetted, or had agency in" is false. One must a co-conspiritor in the initial felony, to which the murder is a connected incident. E.g. a bank robbery’s get-away driver is bound by conspiracy to a murder committed by their co-conspirators in the commission of the conspired robbery.

In the OP example, the charge was wholly unfounded, because there no conspiracy (unless there was one alleged; I’ve seen weirder) between the suspect and the killer cop. Its no bearing on the underlying law when a prosecutor bends it completely out of shape (mostly for saving face, I’d imagine); in that scenario, any law is equally bad.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Definition

"One must a co-conspiritor in the initial felony, to which the murder is a connected incident. E.g. a bank robbery’s get-away driver is bound by conspiracy to a murder committed by their co-conspirators in the commission of the conspired robbery."

False premise.

For conspiracy to apply the person charged must have been involved in the planning of the crime. That is manifestly not the case if the one guy robbing the bank shot someone on the spur of the moment while the driver was sitting in the car.

The driver in that example could be charged with conspiracy over the bank robbery – that was planned. Not the spontaneous murder.

The principle of law is pretty clear. There must be intent. If you can charge people with crimes they neither intended to commit nor committed then we’re already at so low a standard of law that Russia and China come off as paragons of good jurisprudens in comparison.

This seems to be a recurring problem in the US of today – "law" is increasingly a matter of perspective and fuzzy logic rather than a sanction against manifest fact of action and intent.

At that point it isn’t law any longer. It’s the monopoly of violence assuming a Might gives Right philosophy.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Next up an assault charge for forcing me to beat them...'

Oh yeah, I can’t possibly see any room for abuse if police are allowed to blame their actions, up to and including killing someone, on the people they arrest.

Good that the judge rightfully threw that argument out the window though it’s all sorts of disturbing that it was made and maintained in the first place.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: 'Next up an assault charge for forcing me to beat them...'

That has already happened – people have been arrested and charged with battery of an officer for the officer’s knuckles being bruised by their faces.

But it works both ways – or would if prosecutors didn’t protect police from consequence so often. Deprivation of rights under color of law while in possession of a firearm is a federal felony. Two or more officers conspiring to do it is a felony even if both are unarmed. If anyone dies as a result of a cop violating rights, ALL cops present at the time are guilty of felony murder.

Bobvious says:

Re: Re: 'Next up an assault charge for forcing me to beat them..

Your Honour,

the prisoner struck my rapidly moving closed fist with his stationary face, then continued the attack by assaulting me with blood from his nose. After defending myself from his ribcage impacting upon my fist, he compounded the assault by vomiting on me, with malice aforethought. He then deliberately slumped forward in his electric wheelchair and engaged the joystick so that the wheels would run over my foot.

The defense counsel expects this court to believe that the prisoner’s "refusal" to identify themselves was due to a tracheotomy, which only became apparent to this department after the post mortem.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'Next up an assault charge for forcing me to beat th

Go google "Henry Davis Ferguson". You will find a case where a number of officers charged a black man with willfull destruction of government property for bleeding on their uniforms.

An assault which by the statement of the officers in question took place in a cellblock in the precinct lockup, when the cameras didn’t record. Henry Davis spitefully inflicted a number of aggravated injuries on himself and started bleeding all over the kind officers who tried to pacify him.

And then maliciously slandered those officers by claiming they’d dragged him into a cell and started beating him up.

/s before someone mistakes me for Restless94110 or Shel10.

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sumgai (profile) says:

Ah, a direct parallel to social media. It goes like this:

Blame the innocent bystander instead of the actual perpetrator of the crime;

is the equivalent of:

Blame the platform for a shit-post instead of the actual shit-poster.

By extension, most of Congress equals the prosecutors in this case, whereas the Judge has no counterpart…. but he’s exercising both logic and rational reasoning, a faculty that desperately needs some form of existence in the "Tear Down Big Tech!" world.

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Anonymous Coward says:

I can see that Felony murder is a bad idea, but there is worse..

For one thing, knowledgeable criminals know that this exists and so, once someone is killed by the gang, the whole gang knows that they are going to be so charged, No reason to surrender when you can kill the cop. No reason to release a witness alive, you’re already going to be charged with murder, right?

However, at least the victims or this abuse have actually participated in a crime (or are supposed to have done so). But America has laws that allow LEOs to steal an old couple’s life savings with no comeback unless they have the knowledge and stamina to jump through the hoops needed to get their property back. And even then there are no real repercussions for the LEOs involved. And the victims don’t need to have done anything wrong, never mind criminal.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: I can see that Felony murder is a bad idea, but there is wor

It’s bad enough to stand out. Honestly, can you imagine the US ambassador irately telling China and Russia about the absurdity of charging dissenters with terrorist activity when all Putin and the Pooh Bear need to do is to quietly point at US law charging an unrelated suspect with murder over one police officer killed another at the time said suspect was in their custody?

Ah, the "leader" of the free world keeps setting such glorious examples of standards to aspire to.

Proportionate incarceration? The US leads most any other nation.
Racism? The US leads over most other nations in any kpi.
Police brutality? The US leads over any nation not in the third world and over many of those who are.
Proportionate poverty and food insecurity? The US had to redefine poverty standards to claim an "average".
Worker’s rights? Behind most other places.
Health care and life expectancy? Bad and declining sharply.

And most of the declining curves lead back to Reagan who in one fell stroke cut short the golden age of the american dream which was the legacy of FDR.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Wut?

"It works like this. Two people perform a robbery. One waits in the car. The person inside the business kills someone during the robbery. Prosecutors charge the driver with "felony murder" because they can, arguing that the person’s presence at a crime scene makes them as culpable as the person who actually committed the crime."

I think whatever vestiges of respect I had left for the US system of "justice" just evaporated. THIS dumpster fire is what is to be held up against Russia and China as an example? An example of what, how to shit on every principle of good jurisprudens and drop a murder charge on someone who could very well be utterly ignorant and without agency in the crime committed?

basstabs says:

Re: Wut?

That’s because this article was written by someone who is clearly against felony murder on principle, and therefore their explanation of how it works is inherently going to paint it in a bad light. Under its intended usage, felony murder is NOT "the person’s presence at a crime scene makes them as culpable as someone who actually committed the crime." Whether or not you agree with the assertion that felony murder is bad doctrine, this is a strawman. This isn’t what felony murder does.

Felony murder says that if you engage in dangerous, illegal activities, then you do so knowing that someone could very well die in the commission of said activities. Therefore, if someone dies due to your actions, you’re responsible. For example, if a bank robber drops his gun, and it discharges, thereby killing a teller, that’s felony murder. It’s felony murder for the getaway driver in the car because they were directly involved in the initial illegal activity of making the actual robber feel secure enough to walk in and start waving a gun around. Don’t want to be charged with felony murder, don’t agree to be involved in other crimes that could get someone killed.

If someone engaged in target shooting dropped a gun and it killed someone, that’s clearly not murder. But the act of entering a bank with a gun with the intent to point it at people and threaten them assumes the risk that someone is going to end up dead. Again, whether or not you agree with this as being good legal principle is fine, but there’s actually some logical basis behind it.

Now, in this specific case, clearly we have a qualified immunity situation where, even if somewhere there’s a kernel of rational thought that went into the basic idea, prosecutors, judges, and cops have completely bastardized it into some horrific monster of stupidity. Clearly this situation (as rightly pointed out by the judge) is not the purpose of felony murder statutes. It’s a horrific misapplication of the law by the prosecutor. But the misapplication of a law is something that can be fixed without scrapping the entire thing.

Paul B says:

Re: Re: Wut?

Here is the thing, Removal of felony Murder laws won’t stop you from charging someone with Murder. It only allows your mens rea to be bypassed if someone dies while your engaged in a felony.

So this really is a situation where the old law is not a very good one. Removal of the old law also helps with things like Gangs as posted above since with the law 1 dead body and you may as well all fight to the death instead of charging the actor and perhaps his leader.

basstabs says:

Re: Re: Re: Wut?

I mean, I’m not a proponent or detractor of felony murder. I don’t have a significant opinion either way. I could be convinced that it serves a purpose (a much narrower purpose than its current usage), or I could be convinced that any utility it might have can be carried by other, more reasonable and less exploitable statutes.

The only thing I care about is that the discussion surrounding it is accurate, rather than hyperbolic and misleading rhetoric that makes it sound worse than it is.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wut?

"The only thing I care about is that the discussion surrounding it is accurate, rather than hyperbolic and misleading rhetoric that makes it sound worse than it is."

You may want to spend a minute or two thinking about how horrifying it is to remove mens rea from the equation of criminal law. You really can’t hyperbole that.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wut?

"Under its intended usage…"

<reads the OP again>

My point stands. The intended usage of a law is a very low bar of standards. That this got as far as a courtroom in the first place is a shit-show of piss-poor jurisprudens.

"…felony murder is NOT "the person’s presence at a crime scene makes them as culpable as someone who actually committed the crime.""

Since it can be interpreted this way and effectively used this way then it certainly is.

"Whether or not you agree with the assertion that felony murder is bad doctrine, this is a strawman. This isn’t what felony murder does."

Said strawman walked this case all the way before a judge. That this took bad faith by police officers and the prosecutor both could be considered less relevant. If you tried to drag this sort of bullshit in front of a judge I’d expect said judge to seriously sanction the prosecutor over blatant ineptitude and/or malice.

"Felony murder says that if you engage in dangerous, illegal activities, then you do so knowing that someone could very well die in the commission of said activities."

…and that’s a bullshit charge to begin with, unbacked by most principles of western law. Last I checked, intent is still the criteria by which you can assign culpability. When you engage in dangerous and illegal activity then that dangerous and illegal activity is what you should be charged with.

Felony murder is an attempt of overlexification. A way to take any bullshit charge and amplify it until it hits someone who wasn’t related to the more severe felony in the first place. With the possible intent to use as plea bargain material.

"But the act of entering a bank with a gun with the intent to point it at people and threaten them assumes the risk that someone is going to end up dead."

You mean reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit grand theft and manslaughter? Discrete and precise charges fulfilling all criteria of good jurisprudens? Leaving the murderer to face the charges for murder?

No, this is just one more way in which the US proves it can not keep and maintain sensible and proportional legislation, instead going the distance to sidestep burden of proof and intent by tacking on rubberstamp legislation applied only by vested interest.

Recall that Chauvin was merely convicted of "second degree unintentional murder", "third degree murder" and "second degree manslaughter". His associates are going down for "aiding and abetting". Where’s the "Felony Murder" charge of helping an associate slowly choking someone to death while checking the pulse has ceased on the victim?

The intended usage of a number of american laws is quote obvious – it’s meant to amplify any given charge beyond reasonable proportion at the complete discretion of the prosecutor. That being the case it’s both a crappy law and yes, nailing someone for a crime they took no intentional part in is exactly what that law does.

basstabs says:

Re: Re: Re: Wut?

But that’s a problem with the legal system writ large, a prosecutor and LEA can basically do whatever they want until they hit a courtroom. This isn’t unique to felony murder or felony manslaughter. Which is definitely a rather large problem, that our system has no fear of punishment that such willful stupidity can continue en masse because of rampant abuse of qualified immunity, but again that’s not a problem of felony murder itself. As you say, we need more aggressive sanctions and perhaps removal over bullshit like this, but we don’t have it, and so it continues.

As I mentioned before, I’m not here to defend felony murder as a rabid supporter of it. If there’s an accurate and well-informed discussion taking place about why it’s bad, then I think that’s great. But we shouldn’t base our decisions on mischaracterizing hyperbole. Regardless of whether it’s good to charge someone with a crime they took no intentional part in, there’s still a clear distinction between that and charging someone with a crime because they were present at the scene.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wut?

"But that’s a problem with the legal system writ large, a prosecutor and LEA can basically do whatever they want until they hit a courtroom."

That is correct but the conclusion isn’t constructive. One facet of law Felony Murder sets aside completely is mens rea.

If you can be hit with a murder charge without murdering anyone, without even knowing someone was murdered, and without the intent to murder someone…then that is a tool which enables the prosecutor to walk into a jail cell and tell some guy picked up on the most flimsy of excuses and the following happens;

Prosecutor: "Here’s the deal. You confess to felony murder, we hit you with ten years, you’ll be out in three on good behavior."

Suspect: "But I didn’t do anything! Mike just asked me if he could have a package delivered to my garage and leave it there for two days until he picked it up!"

Prosecutor: "Yeah, well, he killed someone over that and you can play ball or we hit you with twenty to life with no parole instead. Your call!"

Suspect (whispering): "…I’ll confess…"

Prosecutor: "One more sweet collar for the books! Righteous!"

Bilvin Spicklittle says:

Felony murder isn’t some "bizarre artifact", but justice in its simplest form. If a burglar breaks in and terrorizes granny into a heart attack, should he get a free pass on that? His felony caused her death directly.

Like all criminal statutes, it is possible to abuse it. But I don’t think anyone would much like a world in which it was repealed, even if they’re too dim to recognize that until it would be too late.

Bilvin Spicklittle says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, he agreed to be the getaway driver to someone who was a murderer, someone who he either knew to be a murderer or should have known to be a murderer (and, he’s even allowed the defense that he didn’t know that the other criminal was a murderer… it often works at trial). When you plan crimes with another person and the results are less than ideal, you don’t get to say "but geez, we expected to be able to commit our inherently violent crime of invading an inhabited residence without anyone dying!". No one buys that. Or at least people who aren’t foolish millennials who want to tear everything down because they can’t be bothered to expend the effort to understand it.

I don’t see the foundation for objection to this principle.

Felony murder statutes can be abused. That’s why we have judges and other safeguards (like grand juries… that one dropped the ball) to prevent them from being abused. Guess what? The headline itself says that the judge did his job correctly.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t see the foundation for objection to this principle.

The foundation is that people should be charged for the crimes they actually committed. For example, if the getaway driver knew the others were going into the house with loaded guns, that’s a much stronger case that they were involved in planning violence. Though even there it seems like conspiracy is a more fitting charge than murder. In the case where there were no weapons involved, no violence expected, but someone ended up being killed, it’s a miscarriage of justice to charge someone with murder who didn’t have a hand in it and had no reason to expect it was going to happen.

(like grand juries… that one dropped the ball)

The grand jury as a check on prosecutors is a joke.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I don’t see the foundation for objection to this principle."

People should be held accountable for what they did, not for what other people did. If I give you a lift to a convenience store, and without my knowledge or approval you decide you’re going to rob the place while you’re in there, should I be held culpable for your action?

"but geez, we expected to be able to commit our inherently violent crime of invading an inhabited residence without anyone dying!"

Burglary is not inherently violent if the house is unoccupied.

"Felony murder statutes can be abused"

By, for example, holding people who didn’t commit a crime culpable for it when the perpetrator isn’t available to prosecute?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Yes, he agreed to be the getaway driver to someone who was a murderer, someone who he either knew to be a murderer or should have known to be a murderer…"

You mean he’s assumed to be psychic?

What he agreed to is to be the getaway driver of someone burglaring a house. That means a number of actionable charges – conspiracy to commit burglary. possibly reckless endangerment.

But western legal principle relies on intent. If someone is the cause of a death without intent to kill the charge is manslaughter. If someone attacks someone else with intent to kill the charge is murder. If a third party holds the coat of the perpetrator then the charge is abetment.

"When you plan crimes with another person and the results are less than ideal, you don’t get to say "but geez, we expected to be able to commit our inherently violent crime of invading an inhabited residence without anyone dying!"."

That is sort of the exact meaning of good law, yes. Because the other sort of law would similarly allow you to pin a murder on someone who was not a part of either murder nor violence. This is why conspiracy and abetting and assisting exist.

Here’s a point you may want to consider; Given your argument any police officer riding into a possible flashpoint situation can and should then be charged with Felony Murder if their colleague loses his shit and guns someone down.

"Or at least people who aren’t foolish millennials who want to tear everything down because they can’t be bothered to expend the effort to understand it."

Says the benighted lackwit whose assumed greater age hasn’t brought him the wisdom to realize that it’s not a good law if it can be used to pin a murder charge on police officers, rescue workers, or doctors and nurses if ANY associated personnel present happens to lose their shit and kill someone deliberately.

Good law works like this; intent combined with criminal act produces charge.

"Felony murder statutes are designed to be abused."

Fixed that for you.

You’d think a "conservative" would value stringent legal principle.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

[Addendum]

Oh, and here’s a perfect example. Partaking in a violent riot in the Capitol on jan 6th. Everyone involved should have known that storming a federal facility while chanting about hanging the US VP might result in death. Felony Murder charge for every participant based on the officers who died, hm?

What I usually find laughable about oh-so-many self-styled "conservatives" is their lack of self-awareness. That law will almost never be used against the getaway driver conspiring with someone to burglar some old pensioner’s house.

It will be used – indeed, probably is used, right now – to grab anyone who could be identified as present on jan 6th and inform them they can play ball or cop 20 to life on Felony Murder or similar rubberstamp bullshit…for getting caught on camera posing with the confederate flag in the middle of the building where a cop had been killed.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It will be used – indeed, probably is used, right now – to grab anyone who could be identified as present on jan 6th and inform them they can play ball or cop 20 to life on Felony Murder or similar rubberstamp bullshit…for getting caught on camera posing with the confederate flag in the middle of the building where a cop had been killed.

Funny you should bring that up. That is exactly what the new riot law in Florida does: make everyone responsible for the actions of one person they didn’t know and never met — even when they had no idea what that person was going to do.

Conservatives created that law. Surely you’re not saying they don’t know what they are doing?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"Conservatives created that law. Surely you’re not saying they don’t know what they are doing?"

Oh, I’m sure they don’t know what they’re doing. Most of them aren’t exactly legal eagles or have the imagination to realize they may be hoisting themselves with that petard.

That said I’m also for real sure at least a few of them are hoping that law can be used against the jan 6th demonstrators just so they can fake a bit of outrage and tell their base it’s all the libs going on a crusade against truth and justice.

Not like the average benighted moron in the alt-right will believe differently.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"If a burglar breaks in and terrorizes granny into a heart attack, should he get a free pass on that?"

Of course not – absolutely nobody is saying that and it’s not the issue at hand. The guy in the building gets prosecuted for what he did.

The issue at hand is that the guy who’s waiting in a car outside gets charged with felony murder because he’s tangentially involved in the initial crime even though he had nothing to do with what happened inside – even if he wasn’t aware that his friend was going to burgle the house when he agreed to give him a lift.

Javier says:

The prosecution claims this was murder…

So should the cup that killed the cop be charged with murder? Seems like that would be a prerequisite for felony murder. Cop/prosecutor:“You’re guilty of felony murder” me:”who was murdered, who murdered them, and can you prove it?” Ok, and once we get the murderous cop charged, the the rest of the cops clearly should get hoisted on the felonious murder charges too – if I (who had nothing to do with that group) am going to be lumped in with them, then we as a group need to face the consequences of our felonious behaviors.
I know, logic doesn’t apply here… quite sad.

Zane (profile) says:

Malicious prosecution?

This is ridiculous. Perhaps there needs to be some sort of "misuse of power" / "malicious prosecution" offense, where police and/or prosecutors who bring forward such ridiculous charges are held criminally responsible for their attempts to misuse their powers. The problem is there is no accountability for those who seek to extend the law beyond what is reasonable. Cases are expensive to fight, and many do not have the resources to do so.

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