judicial reform, state courts, felony-murder, court interpretation, applicability, reach


On a Wednesday afternoon a sixteen-year-old boy is hanging out after school with four of his friends. He is your average sixteen-year-old; he has a girlfriend who works at Wendy’s, and his current worry is about passing his driving test. He smokes some weed from time to time with his friends, but he has a clean criminal record. After complaining about being broke and deciding they have nothing better to do, the five friends elect to break into a seemingly vacant home in order to steal some items for resale. He is already thinking about what he will buy with the extra cash while knocking on the home’s door to double-check that it is empty. He thinks he does not receive a reply, making the unarmed break-in easy. But within minutes, everything changes. The boys realize they are not alone, as evident by the homeowner’s gun shots firing at the panicked teens. The kid has never even held a gun but is now shot in the leg. The sixteen year- old’s vision blurs from the pain, but not in time to miss his friend collapse dead beside him. Only four boys remain living when the police arrest them each for murder. Although none of the teenagers touched a weapon during the robbery, the surviving boys are each convicted of felony-murder in connection with the death of the fifth robber.