Bruce v. State

317 Md. 642, 566 A.2d 103 (1989)

 

RULE:

Under the felony murder doctrine, the state is required to prove a specific intent to commit the underlying felony and that death occurred in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate the felony; it is not necessary to prove a specific intent to kill or to demonstrate the existence of willfulness, deliberation, or premeditation. 

FACTS:

On December 2, 1986, three men entered Barry Tensor's shoe store. One man, later identified as Leon Bruce, was masked and armed with a handgun. He ordered Tensor to open the cash register. One of Bruce's confederates jumped over the counter, and emptied the drawer of its money. Tensor was then ordered to open a second register. Upon finding it empty, Bruce demanded to know where the money could be found. Tensor was hospitalized for five weeks from a gunshot wound to his stomach. On March 10, 1987, Bruce was charged by criminal information with attempted first degree murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, and two counts of unlawful use of a handgun. Bruce was found guilty of attempted felony murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, and upon the two handgun violations. 

ISSUE:

Is attempted felony murder a crime in Maryland?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

A criminal attempt must be proven that the defendant had a specific intent to commit the crime. The court determined that defendant could not be convicted of an attempt at a crime that did not require an element of intent The court held that the defendant's remaining convictions were unaffected by its determination. The court reversed defendant's conviction for attempted felony murder. The case was remanded to the circuit court for the imposition of sentencing on the remaining convictions.

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