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Court Discusses Felony Murder Rule


At approximately 8:00 p.m., a man obtained a ride going to a shopping center. Ten minutes later, he entered a delicatessen, showed a gun and demanded money from the clerk. The clerk then turned over about $145 in cash and checks. After the robbery, the man left the shopping center and walked through the surrounding neighborhood. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said the man eventually arrived at the county line bowling alley. Meanwhile, the robbery had been reported to the police department and an alert was transmitted over the police radio. Consequently, two officers arrived at the delicatessen just minutes after the man had left. A description of the robber was attained and reported over the police radio. A normal police procedure require that unassigned patrol cars proceed to the vicinity of the crime area and any nearby major intersections in an effort to seal off potential avenues of escape. As the man walked onto the parking lot of the bowling alley, he saw a police car turn and enter the lot. The man hid under a parked car. The lone officer in the car come out from his vehicle and walked over to man’s hiding place. The man got up from underneath the car with his gun concealed between his legs. The officer ordered the man to put his weapon on the car hood but the man turned and fired. The officer was mortally wounded and struggled to get back to his police car. The officer then attempted to use the radio to call for the assistance of brother officers and then collapsed on the seat. The man took the automobile of a bowling alley patron and fled. An off-duty police officer used the patrolman’s radio to broadcast a signal for help and the report of the shooting went over the police radio at 8:24 p.m. The eyewitnesses fixed the time of the argument at approximately 8:25 p.m. The bowling alley was located less than one-half mile from the robbed delicatessen.

The man was subsequently captured, identified by eyewitnesses and indicted. A motion to suppress his confession was denied, as was a motion to suppress evidence of a pretrial, police station lineup.

After a jury proceeding, the man was convicted of manslaughter, felony murder, robbery and grand larceny. The appellate division generally affirmed the judgment of conviction, without opinion. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said the principal issue on that appeal is whether the jury was properly permitted to conclude that the shooting of the patrolman occurred in the immediate flight from the delicatessen robbery.

Based on records, a felony murder is committed when a person, acting alone or in concert with others, commits or attempts to commit one of nine predicate felonies, of which robbery is one, and in the course of and in furtherance of such crime or of immediate flight there from, or another participant causes the death of a person other than one of the participants. By law, the intent necessary to sustain a murder conviction is conditional from the intent to commit a specific, serious, felonious act, even though the accused, in truth, may not have intended to kill.

The jury at trial and its verdict found that the man did not possess a murderous intent. The question then arises in whether the jury properly found that the killing of the patrolman was in the immediate area from the robbery, therefore triggering the application of the felony murder principle. In resolving the issue, it is first necessary to refer to the checkered case law in the state, applying the felony murder concepts to cases, such as the said case, where the fatal wounds were inflicted in the course of escape.

Based on records, the 1967 Penal Law is limited to the application of the felony murder concept to nine serious and violent predicate felonies. At the same time, a Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said it was provided that the doctrine would apply to a killing committed in immediate flight. The change was intended to do away with many of the old technical distinctions relating to abandonment or completion.

Further, under the new formulation, the issue of whether the homicide occurred in immediate flight from a felony is only rarely to be considered as a question of law for resolution by the court. Only where the record requires the inference that the person was not in immediate flight and a murder conviction be set aside on the law. Significantly, the question is to be submitted to the jury, under an appropriate charge. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said the jury should be instructed to give consideration to whether the homicide and the felony occurred at the same location or, if not, to the distance separating the two locations. The weight may also be placed on whether there is an interval of time between the commission of the felony and the commission of the homicide .The jury may properly consider such additional factors as whether the offender had possession of the fruits of criminal activity, whether the police, watchmen or concerned citizens were in close chase, and whether the offender had reached a place of temporary safety. These factors are not exclusive and others may be appropriate in differing factual settings. If anything, past history demonstrates the fruitlessness of attempting to apply rigid rules to virtually limitless factual variations. No single factor is necessarily controlling. It is the combination of several factors that leads to a justifiable conclusion.

In the case, the jury properly finds, as a question of fact that the killing of the patrolman occurred in immediate flight from the delicatessen robbery. The shooting occurred less than 15 minutes after the robbery and less than a half mile away. The man had made off with cash proceeds and was attempting to secure his possession of the robbery. The police had reason to believe that the robber was still in the immediate vicinity and had taken steps to seal off avenues of escape. With regards to the absence of proof as to why the officer turned into the bowling alley parking lot has no deficiency. The standard is not whether the police officer subjectively believed that the man was the robber. Indeed, the man’s own anxiety may be more valuable. The man’s response to the observation of the police car was to seek an immediate hiding place. And, it indicates that the man perceived that the police were on his trail. The record does not indicate that the officer knew that the man committed a crime and it does indicate that the man feared that the officer possessed such knowledge. Additionally, the man had not reached any place of temporary safety. In short, there is evidence from which the jury could conclude, as it did, that the man was in immediate flight from the robbery and that he shot the officer in order to make a good escape. The jury was properly charged as to the relevant considerations and the court sees no basis for disturbing its findings.

As to the man’s contention that he was deprived of a right to counsel at the lineup, the previous decision in court established that there is no absolute right to counsel at a prearraignment lineup. The other claims of the man, that the lineup was suggestive and that physical evidence was improperly received at the trial, are without merit.

A lot of people nowadays tend to hook into something bad just to gain easy money. Unfortunately, people happen to get killed because of other people’s selfish desires. If you want justice for your loved ones, you can ask assistance from Nassau County Criminal Lawyer. If you wish to have the Nassau County Arrest Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates in your legal action, feel free to call the team who will be pleased to give you outstanding legal service for your lawsuit.

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