State v. Sophophone

270 Kan. 703, 19 P.3d 70 (2001)

 

RULE:

Where the killing results from the lawful acts of a law enforcement officer in attempting to apprehend a co-felon, the defendant is not criminally responsible for the resulting death of the co-felon.

FACTS:

Defendant and three other individuals conspired to and broke into a house. The resident reported the break-in to the police. Defendant was caught and arrested upon fleeing the scene. One of the other individuals resisted arrest and shot at one of the police officers. He was thereafter shot. Defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated burglary, obstruction of official duty, and felony murder. Defendant moved to dismiss the felony-murder charges, contending the complaint was defective because it alleged that he and not the police officer had killed his companion. The trial court convicted him on all counts.

ISSUE:

Can defendant be convicted of felony murder where his accomplice was killed by a lawful act of a police officer?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

The court overturned the conviction for felony murder, holding that under the facts of the case where the killing of the co-felon resulted from the lawful acts of the police officer in attempting to apprehend the co-felon, defendant was not criminally responsible for the resulting death of the co-felon. Making defendant criminally responsible for the police officer's lawful acts was not the intent of the felony murder statute as it was written.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.