Injustice: homeowner shoots unarmed burglars, burglars guilty of murder - Politics | PoFo

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Crime and prevention thereof. Loopholes, grey areas and the letter of the law.
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Blake Layman was 16, a teenager growing up in a small Indiana town. He had never been in trouble with the law before, and had never owned or even held a gun.
He made one bad decision that would lead to his arrest and trial for "felony murder".

The boy was unarmed, and had killed no one. He himself was shot and injured in the incident while his friend standing beside him was also shot and killed. Yet Blake Layman would go on to be found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 55 years in a maximum-security prison for a shooting that he did not carry out.

How could this happen?

Blake Layman and some friends/acquaintances entered a house to burglarize it, believing no one was home. But the homeowner was home, and shot at the intruders.
Blake and his friends were all unarmed, did not fire a single shot, it was they themselves who were shot at. The homeowner was the only one with a gun.
Yet under Indiana law, Blake and the three others who were with him (the ones who were still alive) were guilty of murder.

Some 46 states in the U.S. have some form of felony murder rule on their statute books. Of those, 11 states unambiguously allow for individuals who commit a felony that ends in a death to be charged with murder even when they were the victims, rather than the ones directly responsible for the killing.
However, Indiana is not one of these 11 states, and under the exact wording of the state law Layman and his friends should be guilty only of burglary. Yet this did not stop them from being prosecuted and found guilty of murder. Blake's other friend, who was with him, pleaded guilty under a plea deal and was sentenced to 45 years. ... ?ocid=iehp

I do not know how these things can happen. Really makes one wonder how much justice is actually in the court systems. The prosecutor ought to be fired, and the judge is guilty of negligence... in my opinion. There are so many issues with this. It's no wonder criminals completely disregard any and all laws, with all the grossly unfair and excessive sentences being meted out by the courts, if they are choosing to break one law they might as well go all out. Hate to say this, but maybe the burglars would have been better off if they were carrying guns themselves, at least they would have had a possibility of escaping.

Apparently this has to do with the so-called "felony murder" legal doctrine, which seeks to hold a criminal responsible for the indirect effects of their crimes.
Teen turns down plea deal for 25 years in prison, gets 65 years instead

WETUMPKA, Ala. — A teenager tried as an adult under Alabama's accomplice liability law was sentenced to 65 years in prison Thursday after rejecting an earlier plea deal that recommended 25 years.

In a two-day trial in March, Lakeith Smith, now 18, of Montgomery was convicted of felony murder, burglary and theft for helping in the 2015 break-ins of two homes in Millbrook, about 10 miles north of Montgomery. He did not kill A'Donte Washington, 16, of Montgomery, who was part of a group of five accused in the thefts.

But several in the group, including Washington, fired shots at Millbrook police officers who responded Feb. 23, 2015, to a call of a burglary in progress, according to officer body-camera footage. The officer that Washington ran toward pointing a .38 caliber revolver fired his police-issued sidearm four times, killing Washington.

Smith was accused of being criminally responsible for the acts that led to Washington's death, the gist of Alabama's accomplice law. An Elmore County grand jury cleared the officer who fired the fatal shots; the officer's name was not released.

On Thursday, Judge Sibley Reynolds of Alabama's 19th Judicial Circuit Court handed down three sentences that Smith will serve back to back: 30 years for murder, 15 years for burglary and 10 years each for two theft convictions.

Smith smiled and laughed through the sentencing, said C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney. Smith flashed a broad smile March 14 as he was led out of the courtroom shortly after the verdicts were announced.

“I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,” Robinson said. “We
are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.”

Alabama's accomplice law states that a person is legally liable for the behavior of another who commits a criminal offense if that person aids or abets the first person in committing the offense. It wasn't immediately known how many states have similar statutes.

"The officer shot A'donte, not Lakeith Smith," Smith's lawyer, Jennifer Holton, said during the trial. "Lakeith was a 15-year-old child, scared to death. He did not participate in the act that caused the death of A'donte. He never shot anybody."

Other surviving defendants charged in the case - Montgomery residents Jadarien Hardy, 22; Jhavarske Jackson, 23; and La’Anthony Washington, 22 - entered guilty pleas to charges of felony murder, burglary and theft, court records show. They are awaiting sentencing. ... spartanntp

Because he did not accept the plea bargain offer from the prosecutor and agree to plead guilty to those charges, he is going to spend almost all of his life in prison. He chose to have his day in court. And that came with a big cost.

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