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There must be a closer and more direct casual connection between criminal conduct and a homicide than is required by the tort concept of proximate cause, and to convict of felony-murder it must be shown that the conduct causing the death was done while in the commission of a felony or in furtherance of the design to commit the felony.
The State charged defendant Robert Maudlin with felony murder, under Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-3401 (Supp. 1973), after someone purchased heroine from defendant and then died of an overdose. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss on grounds that the deceased was not killed nor did he die while defendant was alleged to have been perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate a felony. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the charge.
When a person died from a heroin overdose, could the seller of heroin be held liable for felony murder?
On appeal, the court affirmed the decision of the trial court. The court held that the clear import of the language of the statute could not have been broadened so as to encompass felony murder upon the facts presented. Defendant's only connection with the homicide that was he sold heroin to the deceased who later, voluntarily and out of the presence of defendant, injected himself with an overdose and died. The sole act of defendant was selling the heroin. The felony was the sale of heroin, but it was completed upon consummation of the sale. The injection by the purchaser was out of defendant's presence. Commission of the felony completely terminated when the seller and the purchaser parted company. The felony was not a continuing one.