In the context of felony murder, the character of the victim is not controlling merely because he was a felon, nor is it assumed that the victim being a felon assumed the risk and thereby constructively consented to his death, but courts hold that he assisted in setting in motion a chain of events which was the proximate cause of his death and therefore in the criminal law as in the civil law there is no redress for the victim.
Defendants were found guilty of felony murder after a police officer that was pursuing them for the crime of burglary was shot by another police officer also in pursuit. Defendants moved to arrest a judgment finding them guilty of murder. Defendants alleged that the person who killed or performed the acts which caused the death must be the same person as the one who attempted or committed the forcible felony before liability for murder could be imposed. The trial court granted defendants’ motion. On appeal by the state, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case for the sentencing of defendants for felony murder.
Could defendants be liable for the death of a policer officer, who was pursuing them for the crime of burglary and was shot by another police officer also in pursuit?
Previous holdings provided that a defendant and co-conspirators acting in concert with him could have been held responsible for a killing of an innocent third party during the commission of a forcible felony even though the killing was not actually done by a person acting in concert with defendant or his co-conspirators. Though the police officer was shot by another officer in pursuit of defendants, defendants were still guilty of felony murder because the police officer was killed during the commission of a forcible felony, burglary.