Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » OT: HUH?
  • OT: HUH?

    Filed at 5:12 am under by dcobranchi

    Sometimes I just don’t understand the law. Here’s an account of a robbery in Central Jersey:

    O’Neal was robbed at gunpoint outside his home Sunday night, according to police reports. He had just walked his two daughters to the house and returned to his car when he was confronted by the four suspects.

    One of them demanded his wallet, and O’Neal handed it over, according to police. Inside were his credit cards and $1,500 in cash.

    When the four left, O’Neal jumped into his silver Dodge Durango and chased after them along Route 29.

    One of the suspects fired several shots at O’Neal from the back of a station wagon. O’Neal smashed into the suspect’s car, and the gunman jumped out and fired two more shots at O’Neal, according to the police report.

    During that chase O’Neal ran over the gunman, police said. The dead man was identified by police as 20-year-old Trenton resident Jose Alvarez, an escapee from a Middlesex County corrections facility.

    OK- they robbed him. He chased them. And one of them ended up dead. But there’s this:

    Police have arrested Kyle Gibson, 19, of Hamilton, and a 15-year-old whose name has not been released. Charges are being considered, Medina said Tuesday.

    He told the newspaper that the suspected robbers could face felony homicide charges because the dead man was slain during the course of a crime.

    The robber got run over by the “robbee” and now the other robbers are facing murder charges? What if a cop had shot one of them? Same story? Can someone please explain to me how this makes any sense?

    13 Responses to “OT: HUH?”


    Comment by
    Miller Smith
    November 24th, 2004
    at 7:43 am

    Here in Maryland it is called the Felony Murder Statue. Basicaly the theory is this: But for the the illegal actions of the criminal, no one would be dead; therefore, criminals are responsible for all deaths that arise from their illegal activity-even if they did not intend for anyone to die.


    Comment by
    George
    November 24th, 2004
    at 8:33 am

    If in the act of commiting a crime – others are injured – the perps are responsible for the additional, un-intended consequences (apparently by law in this jurisdiction).

    A cop – unless he is acting outside of the law – is not a criminal.

    The victim – of the robbery – is acting on his own behalf as a lawful citizen and enfocing the law.

    Citizens have every right to apply the law. We pay for and hire law enforcement agents to do the work for us. Doing so does NOT preclude citizens from excersizing their rights.

    In this case, the “victim” was acting as a law abiding citizen enforcing the law. The perps, were acting illegally and becuase some wise citizens (either representatives or by referendum) had in the past passed a law holding accountable perps for unintended consequences, they now have a legal reason to incarcarate the perps – if found guilty.

    Thank (whichever deity you worhsip) for common sense.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    November 24th, 2004
    at 8:42 am

    My question about the cop was unclear. I meant if the cop shot and killed one of the robbers, would the others be charged with murder?


    Comment by
    darby
    November 24th, 2004
    at 8:46 am

    Wow! This almost seems to make sense!
    I’m really afraid that in Ontario the robbery victim would have been charged with vehicular homocide, and vigilantism.
    (I’m remembering a shopkeeper who was charged with attempted murder for shooting at some guys trying to rob his store.)


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    November 24th, 2004
    at 9:09 am

    He may face charges here. Once they left the scene he was in no danger. Chasing them down and smashing their car with his could be seen as “attacking” them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in jail, too.


    Comment by
    Tim Haas
    November 24th, 2004
    at 9:54 am

    Just a quibble — Trenton is Central Jersey, not South.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    November 24th, 2004
    at 10:01 am

    Picky, picky. I’ll fix it stat. Thanks.


    Comment by
    CED
    November 24th, 2004
    at 10:21 am

    Once they leave the scene you are still in danger! My experience: After a confrontation with a perp, he left, my boyfriend and I sighed relief. A few minutes later he came back with a gun he had retrieve, got out of his car and aimed at us. We were able to escape unharmed after a brief car chase. Because we were teenagers at the time we didn’t report it to the police because we were worried that somehow we were going to get into trouble.


    Comment by
    Michael E. Lopez
    November 24th, 2004
    at 10:32 am

    I am not certified to practice law in New Jersey, so take everything I say with a grain of salt and if you need legal advice on this topic, consult a member of the N.J. Bar. I am however, an attorney and thus at least passingly familiar with the concept of “felony murder” and yes, if the cop shoots one of the suspects, the others can be nailed with felony murder. Ditto if a shopkeeper does the shooting.

    As for this guy’s actions in pursuing the criminals… from the news account it seems that they shot at him before he smashed into them. The “zone of danger” stuff Daryl’s talking about has to do with self defense. Here, it *seems* that he was following them — itself a perfectly lawful act and useful for the police — when a brand new danger popped up. I don’t believe that there is a duty to retreat in New Jersey, so he was probably within his rights to defend himself against the use of deadly force with corresponding force (his car).

    The question is whether or not he intended to run them over when he went after them in the first place. If he did, then there could be potential criminal liability for him. If not, then it seems he’s in the clear.

    However, in /either/ case, the other criminals can probably still be held liable.

    Again, I know next to nothing of New Jersey penal law, so please accept this as what it is: the ramblings of an out of state attorney relying on a class or two in law school.


    Comment by
    Joan
    November 24th, 2004
    at 10:34 am

    There was a similar case here in Los Angeles. Two guys tried to hold up a convenience store. One of them was physically assaulting the elderly female owner of the store. The victim’s juvenile grandson came out from the back, got the gun that was under the counter, and shot and killed the man who was attacking his grandmother. At that point, the other robber is guilty of felony murder for the death of his partner. (At the time the story was reported, the robber had fled the scene and was still at large. I don’t know if he was ever caught.)

    It’s hard for me to understand, too. I mean, these are obviously terrible people, but is that really murder?


    Comment by
    Jason
    November 24th, 2004
    at 12:26 pm

    Further proof that concealed carry is the only way to go! NJ needs to get real re: gun laws and respect their citizens’ civil right to self-defense. We live in hope…


    Comment by
    Michelle
    November 24th, 2004
    at 12:51 pm

    I think it makes perfect sense. The criminals created the danger that caused their partner to get killed. They’re the ones who started it all, and the victim would never have killed one of them if they hadn’t been robbing him.

    Good for him!


    Comment by
    CED
    November 24th, 2004
    at 1:45 pm

    I think I’m seeing the point now. Creating a danger where someone gets killed isn’t under any other circumstances considered murder but simply some form of manslaughter. It’s an interesting theoretical justice concept to ponder, but in reality not enough people are going to feel sorry for the escaped felon robbing an innocent man and then firing on him to push for a change in the law. When an armed violent robber gets a life sentence it just doesn’t seem like a miscarriage of justice to most folks, no matter what he got charged with.