Talk about figuring it all out.
Okay, so I’m in a mood this week, and after the chit chat on A’s blog yesterday and how it veered to culpability, I decided to look around the internet for some bizarre cases. Bingo! Found one, and right in my back yard.
So, have you ever heard of the ‘provocative act murder doctrine’? Me either but boiled down here it is:
“The doctrine says that someone who provokes another person to kill can be charged with murder.” Makes sense. I think. This doctrine “originated in 1965 and has been used mainly to convict gang members in Southern California — drive-by shootings are a classic application.” Okay, clearer now.
Defense attorney Angela Carter said, “It creates an unusual situation in which the defendant who did not actually kill anyone can receive the death penalty.”
So here is a snippet of a crime in which the prosecutor is using this theory.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It’s very unreal,” said Judy Hughes, whose son, Renato Hughes Jr. — in an unusual invocation of a complex “vicarious murder” legal theory — is being accused of slaying his boyhood chums, Rashad Williams and Christian Foster. …
Williams, facing a three-year prison sentence for unarmed bank robberies in Danville and Lafayette last year, had been staying with his grandparents in Clearlake since April. On Dec. 7, just after midnight, Hughes and Foster arrived for a visit. ..
The preliminary hearing to determine whether Hughes will go on trial began Jan. 11 and will enter its sixth day today. Testimony has been contradictory and confusing.
According to prosecutor Jon Hopkins, the chief deputy District attorney in Lake County, at some point after 4 a.m., Hughes, Williams and Foster broke into the home where Edmonds was living with his young daughter, fiancee Lori Tyler, her son Dale Lafferty, and an unrelated teen, 16-year-old Justin Sutch. Hopkins maintains the three wanted to steal the medical marijuana used by the unemployed Edmonds, a former tractor mechanic, to combat depression. Police later seized at least 5 pounds from the house.
A free-for-all erupted, according to police, in which one intruder wrestled with Edmonds, one hit Tyler, and another bashed Lafferty with a bat. Edmonds grabbed his 9mm semiautomatic Browning and shot Williams twice in the back and Foster five times. It hasn’t been established whether the shooting began indoors or outside.
When police got there, Williams was lying in the middle of 11th Street, dead, and Foster was dying in bushes 20 yards away.
The Lake County district attorney hasn’t determined whether Edmonds has any criminal liability, but it has charged Mission High graduate Hughes, a 21-year-old clerk at a Trader Joe’s in San Francisco, with two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon.”…
It took me a minute to shake out all of the players in this crime gone awful, but I figured out who the provokees and who the provokers were. (Hey, it’s been a long week) So basically, this kid Hugh and his buddies decided to rob a house. And the homeowner, Edmonds, who obviously in fear for his life, and the lives of his family, had a problem with that, shot and killed two of them, and because he was ‘provoked’ to defend himself, his family, and his home, he is not the culpable one here, but the other robber, the one left standing is charged with two counts of first degree murder.
So, how does that sit with you?
(I know how it sits with me. And I’ll give you a leetle hint: you break into my house, threaten me and mine, I’ll shoot your ass where you’re standing.)