Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Accomplice Liability in Felony Murder Cases

The New York Times published an article about the difficulty juries face in murder trials when the defendant did not do the killing personally. The Lillo Brancato case, which we've been following was cited along with another, the Lee Woods case.

In Lillo's trial the jury determined that he may not have known his accomplice was carrying a gun. In the Lee Woods case, another defendant was convicted of doing the fatal shooting from a car in which Woods was a passenger. Both cases involved the killing of police officers.

The Brooklyn case ended in a mistrial. The defendant, Lee Woods, 30, was charged with aggravated murder and other crimes for what prosecutors said was his part in the killing of Officer Russel Timoshenko during a traffic stop last year. Prosecutors said that Mr. Woods, who will be retried, had not fired a gun but was a willing partner of the men who did. On Monday, when the mistrial was declared because a juror fell ill, other jurors said they were still debating the murder charge.

What do you think about these cases? Is it right to punish an accomplice in a crime for a murder he did not commit? Personally, I've always had a problem with that I'm glad things may be changing a bit in New York.

I find it interesting that both cases involved the killing of policemen. Perhaps this marks a departure of sorts from the traditional severity with which cop-killers have been treated in the past. What do you think?


  1. There was a recent case in San Antonio, Texas where accomplices were charged with felony murder and convicted. These accomplices had previously shot people themselves while day was hanging wit dey homies. On one occasion it was a random spraying of a vehicle on an Interstate Highway by the actual murderer's "crew".

    As black and white as you want to make it, the people that got shot driving peacefully driving down the road didn't shed TEAR ONE for the bastards that shot them (the people in the vehicle WERE SHOT), regardless of if the bastards eventually were convicted of a murder they were accessory too, rather than ones they'd perpetrated directly.

    If you don't hang around with people that murder people while you are also engaging in criminal activity, you have zero risk of being charged under these laws. It's not just what YOU DO, but what your "homies" do, as well.

    Review a humorous yet educational video by Chris Rock. It might help your thinking.

  2. hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o: