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Author Topic: Fire in College Park  (Read 974 times)

philibusters

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Fire in College Park
« on: May 07, 2006, 11:49:45 PM »
About a year ago there was a fire at off campus house that occured after everybody went to sleep after a rowdy party.  1 person was killed , another seriously wounded, though they recovered.  One year later police arrested the arsonist who started the fire.  Turns out he was a freshman, walking by the party, when people at the party randomly yelled insults at him (thats probably happened to a lot of us at least once when walking by a party full of drunk dudes), anyway he got mad, brewed over it, came back, looking for a fight, it was 4 am everybody was asleep he lit a broom on fire, threw it through a window onto the couch and that started the fire.  He has been charged with first degree arson and first degree murder.

First off, let me just say this is a horrible situation.  Second, the tough question is how do we judge this kid.  I myself have been insulted, brewed over it, and come back looking for a fight (though never 2 hours later, in my cases it was like 5 minutes later), I have never lit a broom on fire, or done anything that could put somebody's life in danger and I don't know if I could, yet I know what its like to be anger, brewing about it, wanting to defend your macho honor, so at the least I can understand what he was thinking when he lit the broom on fire, he was thinking payback, I doubt he was figuring on somebody dying or even the house catching on fire, though he should have known better (facts are unclear if he was sober or drunk, to me that is huge when calculating his moral culpablity).   To me depraved heart murder or felony murder are the bovious charges, I don't know what murder charge they brought against him, depraved heart is hardly ever first degree, however, certain felony murders do serve as first degree murders in some states and thats what may have been brought. If it is felony murder, he is screwed cause it sounds like he already admitted to the felony of arson, which means he should get convicted easily. 
Two Questions for you
1)If you were a judge or a jury member how would you look on this kid?
2)What do you think of felony murder?
2008 graduate of William and Mary Law School

raging_achilles

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2006, 12:51:53 AM »
That is a difficult situation.  I think it is necessary to sympathize with an individual, but every crime that is committed is justified by some reason.  If there was an indication that he was particularly vulnerable to insults or depression or insecurity issues, then maybe I would be a bit lenient in my judgment, but I don't think he should just get a slap on the wrist. Murder is terribly wrong. 

philibusters

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2006, 12:58:16 AM »
That is a difficult situation.  I think it is necessary to sympathize with an individual, but every crime that is committed is justified by some reason.  If there was an indication that he was particularly vulnerable to insults or depression or insecurity issues, then maybe I would be a bit lenient in my judgment, but I don't think he should just get a slap on the wrist. Murder is terribly wrong. 

Sounds like the MPC (Model Penal Approach), the reasonable person in the person's sitaution given their background.  So you wouldn't take into account say if they had a temper, but you would take into account if they came from a violent home and what a reasonable person from a violent home would do in the situation.  What do you think of the first degree murder charge (probably a felony murder charge), most likely he did not intend someone to die, is it right to charge him with first degree murder?
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raging_achilles

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2006, 08:49:56 AM »
That is a difficult situation.  I think it is necessary to sympathize with an individual, but every crime that is committed is justified by some reason.  If there was an indication that he was particularly vulnerable to insults or depression or insecurity issues, then maybe I would be a bit lenient in my judgment, but I don't think he should just get a slap on the wrist. Murder is terribly wrong. 

Sounds like the MPC (Model Penal Approach), the reasonable person in the person's sitaution given their background.  So you wouldn't take into account say if they had a temper, but you would take into account if they came from a violent home and what a reasonable person from a violent home would do in the situation.  What do you think of the first degree murder charge (probably a felony murder charge), most likely he did not intend someone to die, is it right to charge him with first degree murder?

This sounds more like involuntary manslaughter or something, but that is an amateur's understanding.  I think it will be very difficult to prove that he had premeditated actual murder with that flaming broom. 

George JeffersonČ

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2006, 09:11:19 AM »
I don't think the person deserves leniency. Any reasonable person would know that throwing a flaming object into a house will likely start a fire, and a house on fire at 4am is likely to lead to the death of those inside.
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raging_achilles

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2006, 09:13:50 AM »
I don't think the person deserves leniency. Any reasonable person would know that throwing a flaming object into a house will likely start a fire, and a house on fire at 4am is likely to lead to the death of those inside.

If I was the attorney, I'd argue a case based on the points that he wasn't thinking clearly, threw the broom only seeking to damage the house and not expecting the house to catch fire and definitely believing the the people inside would get out.  If I could prove that to a jury, I think murder would be a hard sell.

George JeffersonČ

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2006, 09:22:33 AM »
I don't think the person deserves leniency. Any reasonable person would know that throwing a flaming object into a house will likely start a fire, and a house on fire at 4am is likely to lead to the death of those inside.

If I was the attorney, I'd argue a case based on the points that he wasn't thinking clearly, threw the broom only seeking to damage the house and not expecting the house to catch fire and definitely believing the the people inside would get out.  If I could prove that to a jury, I think murder would be a hard sell.

I'd wish you good luck.
Put 'em in yo mouth!

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2006, 09:29:38 AM »
I don't think the person deserves leniency. Any reasonable person would know that throwing a flaming object into a house will likely start a fire, and a house on fire at 4am is likely to lead to the death of those inside.

If I was the attorney, I'd argue a case based on the points that he wasn't thinking clearly, threw the broom only seeking to damage the house and not expecting the house to catch fire and definitely believing the the people inside would get out.  If I could prove that to a jury, I think murder would be a hard sell.


that type of reasoning though would indicate the defendant's thought process was quite clear!  the old adage of lying is to keep it simple  ;D


raging_achilles

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2006, 09:33:36 AM »
I don't think the person deserves leniency. Any reasonable person would know that throwing a flaming object into a house will likely start a fire, and a house on fire at 4am is likely to lead to the death of those inside.

If I was the attorney, I'd argue a case based on the points that he wasn't thinking clearly, threw the broom only seeking to damage the house and not expecting the house to catch fire and definitely believing the the people inside would get out.  If I could prove that to a jury, I think murder would be a hard sell.


that type of reasoning though would indicate the defendant's thought process was quite clear!  the old adage of lying is to keep it simple  ;D



I guess I should have said that he wasn't thinking clearly about murder.  If I were a Judge/jury member, I wouldn't be so sure this was murder, it seems a lot more like manslaughter and that they are trying to capitalize on the 2 hour time gap.

philibusters

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Re: Fire in College Park
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2006, 11:32:38 AM »
That is a difficult situation.  I think it is necessary to sympathize with an individual, but every crime that is committed is justified by some reason.  If there was an indication that he was particularly vulnerable to insults or depression or insecurity issues, then maybe I would be a bit lenient in my judgment, but I don't think he should just get a slap on the wrist. Murder is terribly wrong. 

Sounds like the MPC (Model Penal Approach), the reasonable person in the person's sitaution given their background.  So you wouldn't take into account say if they had a temper, but you would take into account if they came from a violent home and what a reasonable person from a violent home would do in the situation.  What do you think of the first degree murder charge (probably a felony murder charge), most likely he did not intend someone to die, is it right to charge him with first degree murder?

This sounds more like involuntary manslaughter or something, but that is an amateur's understanding.  I think it will be very difficult to prove that he had premeditated actual murder with that flaming broom. 

Yeah, its been two weeks since I taken criminal law, the MPC approach I mention I think has to do with voluntary manslaughter.
Generally, depraved heart murder (a type of second degree murder charge) and reckless involuntary manslaughter are really close and hardto tell apart, usually it turns on how morally culpable the jury thinks the person is.  You defense of the murder fails because felony murder usually goes something like this-if person committed a dangerous felony like armed robbery, arson, kidnapping, and somebody dies they are liable for murder becasue we ASSUME they knew the risk.  Thus the state doesn't have to prove he intended to kill somebody or that the idea even crossed his mind, only that he intended to committ a dangerous felony-somewhat similiar to the thinking of george jefferson here.
2008 graduate of William and Mary Law School