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The legislature intended to continue the implied malice rule. Accordingly, under Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.005(1), "criminal homicide" requires that a defendant act with a culpable mens rea with respect to causing the victim's death; under Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.005(2), "criminal homicide" includes "murder," and under Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.115(1)(b), requisite culpable mens rea is established, as a matter of law, by the defendant's commission or attempted commission of the predicate felony.
Defendant broke into the victim's home, stole several marijuana plants and household items, and attempted to rape and sexually abuse the victim. The next day, the victim's son found her body on the floor next to her bed, with a bed sheet tied around one of her legs and also loosely tied to a bedpost. The cause of the victim's death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to emphysema. The victim suffered from acute COPD, which was exacerbated critically by defendant's burglary, attempted rape, and attempted sexual abuse. Before trial, defendant demurred to the felony murder count in the indictment. Defendant argued that the demurrer should be sustained, because the felony murder count did not allege that defendant had caused the death of the victim with a culpable mental state and therefore did not allege facts constituting an offense. The trial court convicted defendant of felony murder. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the felony murder statute, Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.115(1)(b), did not require that the state allege and prove that a defendant acted with a culpable mental state in causing the victim's death. Defendant petitioned for review, arguing that, because felony murder was a form of criminal homicide, the state was required to allege in the indictment one of the mental states described in Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.005(1); that it was required to allege that defendant had killed the victim intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence.
Did the felony murder statute require that the state allege and prove that a defendant acted with a culpable mental state in causing the victim's death?
The judgment was affirmed. The supreme court found that nothing in Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.115 or any other related statutes indicated that the legislature intended to change the long-standing rule that the felony murder rule had operated to impose responsibility for homicides that occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a felony, without the separate and additional requirement that the defendant acted with a mens rea in causing the death of another person. The legislature intended that the mental state required for the underlying felony in § 163.115(1)(b) to be imputed as a matter of law to the cause of the death of the victim. The legislature intended to continue the implied malice rule.