Felony Murder Conviction Upheld Because Defendant Acted with Reckless Indifference for Human Life
In 2000, a man was convicted in San Bernardino for a home invasion robbery during which the man’s accomplice shot and killed a resident of a house. In 2005, the man was found guilty of first-degree felony murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 27 years to life. In 2018, the Legislature enacted SB 1437 which amended the definition of felony murder so that an accomplice to an underlying felony can’t be convicted of felony murder unless they aided in the murder with:
- the intent to kill or they were
- “a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life.” See Penal Code § 189.
On appeal, the man argued his murder conviction should be vacated because he did not act with reckless indifference to human life, notably because he was not the one who shot the victim. The court disagreed and affirmed his murder conviction. The court reasoned that the man acted with reckless indifference when he planned a home invasion robbery of a drug dealer who he knew would be home. Additionally, when the man used a firearm to push his way into the property and held the victim to the ground at gunpoint, this prevented the victim’s escape and led to their death. The court went further holding “that [the man’s] own personal involvement in the crime was extensive, and not minor, and he was subjectively aware that his planning and participation in the underlying felony involved grave risk of death and demonstrated reckless indifference to life.”
Contact the Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If someone you know has been convicted of felony murder and did not actually commit the murder but rather was an accomplice to a crime, you should hire a Wallin and Klarich criminal defense attorney to review their case. If after reviewing the case we believe there is a viable motion to be made, we would apply for resentencing under California’s modified felony murder rule known as PC 1170.95. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully helping clients facing charges under the felony murder law. Let us help you today.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
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