Watch who you kick it with or the ride you take.
In the US, you don’t have to kill anyone to be charged, convicted, and sentenced for murder.
For instance, Fifteen-year-old Lakeith Smith went on a burglary spree with his 16-year-old friend A’Donte Washington who was shot dead, in the neck, by police.
It’s never been in dispute that a Millbrook police officer shot and killed Washington – officer-worn body cameras captured the fatal confrontation. A grand jury declined to charge the officer, finding that the shooting was justified.
Instead, Smith was charged and found guilty of his friend’s murder. Last week, a judge sentenced him to 65 years in prison. Under Alabama’s accomplice liability law, Smith is considered just as culpable in Washington’s death as if he had pulled the trigger himself.
In another tragedy, a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed for allegedly trying to steal a car from a driveway and the five teenagers who were with him were charged with a murder they did not commit.
An obscure Illinois law (known as the felony murder rule) allows authorities to charge people with murder if someone dies during the commission of a serious crime, whether they personally inflicted the injury or not. In this case, the crime was (auto theft) burglary.
This happened because many states have codified some form of rules, such as Proximate Cause Theory, Accomplice Liability, Agency Theory, or the aforementioned Felony-Murder rule that could cause you to get a felony-murder charge, conviction, and be sentenced to LIFE or LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, despite never having pulled the trigger yourself.
Here are some elementary examples:
Jack and Jill agree to rob a grocery store. Jack waits in the getaway car while Jill goes into the store and robs it at gunpoint. During the course of this robbery, Jill intentionally shoots and kills the store clerk. Jack and Jill will both be charged with first-degree murder, even though the death of the store clerk was not a part of the original plan and Jack never pulled the trigger.
Jack and Jill agree to rob a grocery store. Jack waits in the getaway car while Jill goes into the store and robs it at gunpoint. During the course of this robbery, Jill unintentionally shoots and kills the store clerk. Jack and Jill both will be charged with first-degree murder, even though the death of the store clerk was unintentional and Jack never pulled the trigger.
Jack and Jill agree to rob a grocery store. Jack waits in the getaway car while Jill goes into the store and robs it at gunpoint. During the course of this robbery, the store clerk shoots and kills Jill. Jack will be charged with first-degree murder, even though the death of Jill was caused by the store clerk.
Jack and Jill agree to rob a grocery store. Jack waits in the passenger seat of the getaway car while Jill, who is the driver, goes into the store and robs it at gunpoint. While fleeing the scene, the car Jill is driving t-bones another vehicle at an intersection and the other driver is killed. Jack and Jill both will be charged with first-degree murder, even though the death of the other driver was unintentional and Jack was not driving.
Jack and Jill agree to rob a grocery store. Jack waits in the getaway car while Jill goes into the store and robs it at gunpoint. While fleeing the scene of this robbery, a police officer shoots at the fleeing vehicle and kills Jill. Jack will be charged with first-degree murder, even though the death of Jill was caused by a police officer.
In all of these scenarios, Jack could be charged with and convicted of first-degree murder even though he:
- did not possess or fire a weapon
- may not have known that Jill possessed a weapon
- was not physically present when the death occurred
- did not know that a death would occur, or
- was a juvenile while Jill was an adult.
So, In essence, DON’T GET LIFE, LIKE JACK, FOR ROLLING WITH JILL.
ADDITIONAL TRUE STORIES
Shortly after midnight on Jan. 11, 2019, Phoenix police pulled over a car filled with four people suspected of committing an armed robbery earlier that evening. Within three seconds after being pulled over one of them, Jacob Harris hopped out and started running and officers Dave Norman and Kristopher Bertz opened fire, fatally striking him in the back.
The officers didn’t face any consequences for the shooting. Instead, prosecutors laid the blame on Harris’s three friends in the car. Even though none of them had fired a single shot, 19-year-old Sariah Busani, 20-year-old Jeremiah Triplett, and 14-year-old Johnny Reed were charged with first-degree murder. More than two years later, they remain in jail awaiting trial.
“Charging the co-felons in these cases all too often provides police officers with cover in cases where the shootings are in violation of departmental policies or are otherwise unjustified,” said Steve Drizin, a professor at Northwestern University’s law. “The laws are used to justify decisions not to discipline police officers.”
Five years before he opened fire on Harris, Norman fatally shot another man, Craig Uranm, whose girlfriend was then arrested for felony murder. While this may appear to be yet another miscarriage of justice, involving police, we write this story not to condemn them, but to educate you and yours about what has happened to others and could easily happen to you if you make similar decisions.
In 2012, 23-year-old Kody Roach was charged with murder after a stray bullet fired by police during a confrontation with him killed a bystander in Orlando. He pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed firearm in exchange for the dismissal of the murder charge and was sentenced to five years in prison.
In 2009, Robert Thompson was executed in Texas on a felony murder charge. During a joint robbery of a convenience store, Thompson and his co-defendant Sammy Butler both fired shots at the two employees, but it was Butler’s bullet that ultimately killed one of the employees. Both shooters were eligible for the death penalty, but the two separate trials came to two separate conclusions, and only Thompson was sentenced to death, in part because of his criminal history.
Simply Put: DON’T GET ON THE WRONG BUS, KNOW YOUR DOGS OR RIDE SOLO
Terrance Mosely is a prime example of someone who made the mistake of getting into the wrong car. Mosley was seated in the passenger seat of a parked car when a police officer searched the car, allegedly because it had duplicate license plates. The officer found two bags of marijuana in the car that totaled about two pounds.
Mosley says he was trying to get a ride and did not know the marijuana was in the car. He adamantly insists the marijuana did not belong to him. The driver of the car received probation in exchange for pleading guilty and testifying against Mosley.
Mosley was first sentenced to 25 years in prison but was subsequently sentenced to life without parole as a third-strike offender. To adjudicate Mosley as a habitual offender, the judge used a 12-year-old juvenile possession conviction.
Some choices are conditioned on the circumstances dealt to you in life or the dismal limitations available to you as the only available lowly product or alternatives of your current environment. Regardless, YOUR choices have consequences.
Be careful of the choices you make and ESPECIALLY THE RIDE YOU TAKE for it may be a ONE WAY DEAD END TRIP FOR LIFE