Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
For a killing to occur in the perpetration of a felony so that the felony murder rule applies, the killing must be done in pursuance of the felony, and not collateral to it. In other words, the killing must have had an intimate relation and close connection with the felony and not be separate, distinct, and independent from it. In addition, there must be a causal connection between the felony and the killing.
The appellant was fleeing from law enforcement officials in a van that another person had stolen in Florida twenty days earlier when the stolen van he was driving collided with a Sullivan County deputy's patrol car. The deputy died almost immediately from injuries he sustained in the collision. As a result of the deputy's death, the appellant was charged with and convicted of first-degree murder in the perpetration of a theft. In the Court of Criminal Appeals, the appellant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction and argued that the felony murder rule should not be applied because the killing was collateral to and not in pursuance of the felony of theft. The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the appellant's claim of insufficient evidence and affirmed his conviction of felony murder. The appellant challenged the decision.
Under the circumstances, was the evidence sufficient to support the appellant’s conviction of felony murder?
The court reversed the appellant’s conviction. Reasoning that the sufficiency of the evidence depended on whether the theft and the murder were closely connected in time, place, causation, and continuity of action, the court concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. The appellant did not steal the vehicle, and the fact that he was in possession of the vehicle at the time of the killing was an insufficient connection in light of the fact that the killing was completely unconnected to the initial taking of the vehicle in time, place, and continuity of action. After the theft, there was a significant break in continuity when appellant and his companion reached a place of temporary safety for 20 days. The killing was insufficiently connected to the theft.