Saturday, May 2, 2009

Daniel Coleman - Not Guilty of Felony Murder

The Miami Herald reposts on the acquittal of Daniel Coleman.

Miami-Dade jurors on Friday night acquitted an accused gas station thief facing a murder rap after his pal was shot to death in 2006 by a county cop in Northwest Miami-Dade.

Daniel Coleman, 45, had been charged with second-degree felony murder and burglary to an unoccupied structure.

''He is a free man,'' said defense attorney Jonathan Meltz.

Prosecutors maintained Coleman and Walter Herbert White, 48, nearly ran their van over a Miami-Dade officer after stealing snacks from the Shell station at Northwest 79th Street and 22nd Avenue in November 2006.

The officer fired at the van, fatally striking White, the driver. Under state law, someone who commits certain felonies -- in this case, burglary to an unoccupied structure -- can be charged with murder if someone dies during the crime.

How does this story impact on our discussions about Tony Curtis Phillips? Does it mean that when it comes to a jury of his peers, chances are he'll get off too? Does it mean that in some cases juries don't think punishing a criminal to the full extent of the law is necessary?

I have to admit, I found this a surprising verdict. How about you?

One thing I noticed is similar in both cases, the fatal shooting was supposed to have been in response to the vehicle nearly running over the shooter. That lights up the sceptical part of my brain; it sounds too convenient. I suspect, granted with no evidence to go on, that both shootings were excessive actions and both shooters claimed the part about the vehicle trying to run them down to justify. What do you think?

Please leave a comment.


  1. The state would have had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Coleman helped steal the snacks. If they didn't have enough proof, this could explain the verdict. Best-case scenario: Coleman was riding in the van but didn't help steal the snacks. Worst-case scenario: a guy who may have helped steal snacks is loose on the streets. Either way, locking him up for felony murder would be a bit harsh, don't you think?

  2. Mike - Given your past few posts maybe you can volunteer to stand in front of a car and have someone run you over.

    My guess is you wouldn't be willing to do that due to fear of death, which explains why deadly force was used in each of these situations where you've bashed the guy doing the shooting.

  3. Yes, I'm bashing the gun owner who claims that he had to shoot at an approaching vehicle to save his life. That shit happens to Bruce Willis in the movies, in real life I suspect it's total bullshit to describe another aggressive shooting as defensive.

  4. MikeB,

    Aren't you calling the home owner a liar?

    You are doing it politely, but you are saying that he is lying about having to defend himself.

    And you also call everyone else who makes those statements a liar.

    Guess the police are in it also, protecting the lying homeowners so they can shoot people who were just trying to steal something.

    And the District Attorneys? Are they in on it too?

    The coroners?

    Everyone but MikeB is in on it but you are telling us how it goes. Without being there, without seeing the evidence you can tell how is making things up.


  5. Yes, Bob, it is amazing. In Florida I expect many people feel like you do. Some of those good folks are in the prosecutor's office and law enforcement, so yes, I do think when a homeowner is "defending" himself many of those people are happy to buy the story.

  6. But MikeB,

    You aren't supposed to call people LIARS.

    You've derided us many times for addressing people who can't tell the truth(YOU) in such terms.

    Yet you turn around and call the people liars without a shred of evidence.

    When we call you a liar, we present evidence showing that you are lying.

    Why don't you present some evidence to show all those people are lying????

  7. Mike - Is there some reason why you consistantly side with the scumbag criminal in each of these situations? Do you feel some sense of comraderie with them?

    You seem to be of the opinion that anyone "defending" themselves in such situations is not to be trusted and should be considered guilty instead of innocent. Thank god the prosecutors and AG's office don't share your views.

  8. Mike W., Actually I don't always side with the criminals. We discussed a story once about a 90-year-old granny in Pennsylvania who held the burglar at gun point till the cops came. I praised her actions. Notice she didn't kill the guy although according to your moral code she could have, I suppose.

  9. Well of course Mike, I would MUCH rather stop a crime in progress without having to fire a shot.

    Had these two stopped upon seeing the armed homeowner in front of them and complied with his demands no one would be dead.

    They chose to ignore the warnings of the man who's car they were stealing. If you're in the act of committing a crime and someone (victim or cop) has a gun pointed at you you'd damn well better stop what you're doing IMMEDIATELY and listen to them.

  10. Under state law, someone who commits certain felonies...can be charged with murder if someone dies during the crime.

    For what it's worth, I think the law seems to be using improper means to achieve an end. Murder is the deliberate, illegal killing of another person. Accidental illegal killing is negligent homicide or manslaughter. If a state thinks it needs greater penalties for felons who cause deaths, fine. Increase the penalties for manslaughter that happens in the commission of a felony. But I don't think it's right to say "we'll pretend it's this kind of more serious crime". both cases, the fatal shooting was supposed to have been in response to the vehicle nearly running over the shooter...That shit happens to Bruce Willis in the movies, in real life I suspect it's total bullshit...

    I dunno. In the first, last, and I hope only time I ever thought I was in serious danger from another person, I accelerated my car as fast as I could to get away from him, and had to get dangerously close to running him over (to the point that he banged his fist on my car as I passed). I don't find it at all unlikely that in at least some of the thousands of car-related crimes that happen in our country every day, the person responding has to approach the car from the front. Would a career criminal be any less likely to risk running somebody over to escape than I was?