The felony murder rule holds that any death that occurs during the commission of a felony should be treated as murder. In such a case, other participants in a felony, where a death occurs, should be charged with murder irrespective of whether they caused the death or not (Siegel, 2017).
There are various elements in a felony murder. Actus Reus consists of the physical elements of the murder. In Washington State, the Actus Reus of a felony murder, hence, includes the victim’s death. Other elements of Actus Reus include the commission of a chain of events that would eventually lead to the death of the victim. Lastly, it is required that the death of the victim should have happened during the commission of the felony, whilst attempting to commit the crime, or while fleeing the scene of the crime. The Mens Reus is the mental state that facilitates a crime, in this case, a felony. In Washington State, the Mens Reus necessary for a felony to be proven includes the killers intent to commit the crime (RCW 9A.32.030 (b), 2003).
In determining whether Samuel Frank
Downey should be charged with Felony Murder, it is essential to determine
whether the crime committed was a felony. Downey called the police as a prank and
eventually shot Dockery in the head. In such a case, it can be concluded that
Downey had the intentions to kill. Downey seemed to have planned to commit the
atrocity upfront and was not in the process of committing a felony. Downey’s
crime, therefore, should not be treated as a felony murder as there was no
felony involved. The juries should look at the possibilities of a first-degree
murder since he seems to have premeditated to kill the officer by feigning a
911 call and eventually fatally wounding the officer, who eventually succumbed
to the atrocity.
RCW 9A.32.030(b) (2003).
Siegel, S. (2017). Felony Murder Rule. San Francisco: Sheldon M. Siegel Incorporated