To show guilt of one who aids and abets, the law requires that the person knowingly associates with the unlawful venture and participates in a way which indicates that such person is furthering the success of the venture. Mere association with the principals who actually commit the crime or mere presence in the vicinity of the crime is itself insufficient to establish guilt as an aider and abettor; however, when a person knowingly associates with the unlawful venture and participates in a way which indicates he or she willfully is furthering the success of the venture, such evidence of guilt is sufficient to go to the jury.
The Defendant was among those charged for several offenses including felony murder. It appears that the defendant and his friends went to the shooter's apartment and pretended to buy drugs when their intention was to rob him of his drugs. The transaction turned bloody as a shootout ensued between the victim and his friend who died as a result. Defendant argued, inter alia, that the felony murder rule did not apply because the intended victim of the robbery shot and killed a co-felon in the robbery.
Does the felony-murder rule apply even if the person killed in the robbery is a co-felon?
The supreme court rules that Defendant and the co-felon went to the intended robbery victim/shooter's home to rob him of drugs. The co-felon accompanied the shooter into the bathroom. Within moments, defendant heard a gunshot and screams from the bathroom. The shooter then stood up and began firing a semi-automatic pistol at the co-felon. In another version of events however, the co-felon pulled a pistol, pointed it at the shooter, and threatened him. The shooter then drew his pistol in reaction to the threat and fired at the co-felon. The co-felon was not killed by a law enforcement officer or by the lawful acts of a victim acting in self-defense for the protection of his residence and the occupants thereof. Both the co-felon and the shooter carried firearms in a drug deal "gone wrong." Even though the evidence was conflicting whether the co-felon threatened the shooter before the shooter shot and killed the co-felon, it was clear that the shooter was an active participant in the sale of cocaine, a forcible felony.