Felony-murder liability continues during the escape of a burglar from the scene of the burglary until the burglar reaches a place of temporary safety.
Defendant entered a supermarket, grabbed $ 75 out of a cash register and ran. Several supermarket employees pursued him. He ran out of the supermarket into the parking lot and got into his car. Joseph Andre, who was in the parking lot at the time, joined in the chase. Andre ran in front of defendant's car and put his hands on the hood as if to stop the car. Andre then went to the driver's side window of defendant's car, put his arm inside the car and told defendant to stop. Defendant drove away, jerking the car sharply to the left. Defendant's car hit Andre, knocking Andre onto the hood of the car. Andre then fell off of the hood and struck the back of his head on the pavement. This impact resulted in Andre's death. Defendant sped up and drove away. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, burglary and an unrelated robbery and committed to state prison. On appeal, he challenges only the murder conviction.
Can a killing, which occurs "in the perpetration" of the burglary, be charged as a felony of murder?
The court affirmed the conviction. The duration of felony-murder liability was not determined by considering whether the felony itself had been completed. The homicide was committed in the perpetration of the felony because the killing and the felony were parts of one continuous transaction. The court rejected defendant's contention that the escape rule was limited exclusively to robbery, as defendant's immediate escape from the scene of the crime was as much a part of the same continuous transaction if the crime was burglary as it was if the crime was robbery. Thus, defendant's liability for felony-murder continued during the escape of defendant from the scene of the burglary until he reached a place of temporary safety.