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Articles Posted in Murder

It took prosecutors 45 minutes to read through all of the charges filed against two men who committed dozens of batteries, armed robberies, and at least one murder over the course of four hours. Police said they left nearly two dozen victims over the course of the crime spree and horrifically beat a man to death in front of his family as he was trying to put up Christmas lights. 

This is precisely the type of crime that Chicago is riddled with, leaves people afraid for their safety, and confounds any attempts to rationalize the event. The two men prowled the streets with a crowbar and a baseball bat looking for easy victims. One of the victims was a family man hanging Christmas lights. His children were there to witness the beating and killing of their father. 

In another incident, the men terrorized a family and stole the father’s paycheck while his 4-year-old son was present in the vehicle. They are unlikely to see the outside of a prison cell in their lives for these crimes. DNA evidence from the crowbar and the bat will show the victim’s blood and connect them to the crimes. 

A Chicago man is facing first-degree murder charges after murdering a star athlete to take his Air Jordans. The victim was an avid collector of old sneakers and had arranged to meet someone to purchase the vintage apparel. Two men who were apparently hiding nearby rushed the athlete as he was placing the sneakers in his trunk. One of the men shot him in the chest. Weirdly, neither man grabbed the shoes, which was the apparent payoff of the shooting. His mother speculated that the victim’s size and physique may have scared the attackers off. Yet another senseless death.

Of the two men involved in the robbery attempt, only one is facing murder charges. It is unclear if the other man has been charged with a crime or not. However, since he was involved in a robbery attempt, he could very easily face charges for the murder. Police would need to establish that the man conspired to engage in the robbery attempt. However, Chicago does not like felony murder charges, especially recently under Kim Foxx’s administration. The man will likely be charged with armed robbery, but the police have yet to issue any obvious charges against the second man.

The first man, the one who pulled the trigger, will face first-degree murder charges for the attempted robbery. However, since nothing was actually stolen, it may allow his friend to walk away from the incident without consequence.

It has been a while since we have discussed the Ahmad Arbery case. The three men convicted of killing Arbery faced state murder charges in Georgia. Each was convicted on felony murder or malice murder charges, with the ringleader facing the harshest charges of the three. But their problems did not stop there. The federal government also wanted a piece of the men and convicted them on additional charges.

This does not happen very often, but the federal government can increase the misery of certain individuals by filing federal charges against those who have already been convicted of state-level charges. In the case of the Arbery killers, the three men were tried and convicted of murder based only on the facts of the crime. In other words, the Georgia prosecutors avoided bringing race into the prosecution at all. It was a tricky maneuver because everyone knew that this was a racially motivated attack. But Georgia has a large population of rural whites, which makes it among the most conservative states in the country next to neighboring Alabama. 

So state prosecutors decided to try the three men based on the facts of the altercation with Arbery and successfully gained convictions when the defendants failed to prove that Arbery had a weapon or was a threat when they rode him down in their pickup.

A Chicago man has been charged with the murder of an area dance instructor. Police do not know why the shooting occurred, but the dance instructor was shot outside of his studio and pronounced dead at the scene. He operated the studio as a non-profit and marketed it as a safe space for children. 

The suspect has been tied to the shooting through his vehicle and a distinctive gold bracelet he was wearing at the time of the shooting. Police officers also have shell casings that match the weapon used, and three cell phones that place him at the shooting when it occurred. They were able to track the suspect through his vehicle, which was caught on surveillance at the time of the shooting. 

Police do not know if the pair had interacted prior to the shooting, or are unwilling to tip their hand on the matter. It seems likely that the dance instructor was targeted for some unknown reason. In some cases, a criminal may put pressure on an individual to do something under the threat of death. If they fail to do what is demanded of them, then the criminal has to execute the consequence for not complying. 

The background is fairly simple. There is a controversial law on the books that allows the state to pursue first-degree murder charges against an individual who did not intend to commit the murder, but was in the process of committing some other forcible felony. As an example, if a man robs a liquor store and the clerk pulls a gun, the man cannot claim self-defense if he kills the clerk first. Instead, it is considered felony murder, the equivalent of first-degree murder. Makes complete sense, right?

Let’s move on to Alabama. You and a bunch of your friends are up to no good. Police spot you and tell you to stop. You do what kids do, and bolt. The police officer opens fire and kills your friend. You have now been charged with felony murder since fleeing law enforcement is considered a felony. Even though you did not pull the trigger, the law holds you responsible for the other teen’s death.

While the first situation makes complete sense, the second example is a gross perversion of the felony murder rule that is used to pin murder charges on mostly Black suspects. Hence, the felony murder rule is a target for police reformers who believe that the system is racist. 

A mother, her adult child, and a juvenile child are all facing charges related to the murder of the mother’s 6-year-old son. According to police, the mother concocted an odd story about a woman named Monique and another guy named Whacko or Chaos. The mother said that the child left with Whacko/Chaos and was never seen from again. However, police were able to punch a hole in that story, and then the investigation turned on the family. 

The boy was found naked and wrapped in a plastic bag in an alley. The boy’s mother is charged with first-degree murder among other crimes. Her adult son is charged with aggravated abuse of a child and unlawfully disposing of a body. A juvenile will face charges in juvenile court. A recent autopsy revealed that the boy died of hypothermia. However, the autopsy also revealed that burns were on the boy’s body. 

Analyzing the Evidence

Two men meet in rehab. Neither is ready to commit to a life of sobriety. The one man sells the other man drugs or arranges for him to get access to drugs, and that man dies. Now, the other man is facing homicide charges. He is convicted of giving the other man a fatal dose of drugs. He pleads guilty and is sentenced to seven years.

Prosecutions such as these are becoming more popular and increasing the risk to drug dealers or even those who procure drugs from a drug dealer to deliver to a friend who is going to share the drugs with them. In this case, the victim’s parents pushed police to investigate the overdose as a homicide. Police were able to recover cell phone exchanges between the two men. Importantly, one exchange involved the victim complaining that he believed he overpaid for his drugs. The defendant responded by telling him he had given him the correct amount and the correct change. 

The Controversy Surrounding This Law

Kyle Rittenhouse has been eating up the headlines, but a recent verdict in favor of the prosecution may salve any lingering misgivings about his acquittal. Three men have been charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. The men approached Arbery on the street believing that he was loitering around a home that was under construction so that he could find something to steal. The men detained Arbery under a centuries-old citizen’s arrest law that has since been repealed after furor over the Arbery case.

Travis McMichael was convicted of malice murder, which is similar to first-degree murder in Illinois. It was the strongest conviction the prosecution was able to attain. McMichael’s son was charged with felony murder as was a third man who broke the case wide open by publishing a video of the murder.

But the case almost did not make it to trial. Now, the first prosecutor who was presented with the case is facing charges of prosecutorial misconduct for her role in preventing the case from going to trial. The state’s attorney general has charged the prosecutor with prosecutorial misconduct and corruption. She recused herself from the case when it became known that she and the McMichaels knew one another. She is accused of attempting to influence the prosecution of the case in favor of the defendants.

A Chicago-area woman is facing charges for the murder of her mother in Indonesia. She spent the last seven years in an Indonesian prison on the same charges. She is believed to have killed her mother with the help of her boyfriend at the time. Authorities believe that the daughter and her boyfriend killed the mother and then stuffed her into a suitcase. The two exchanged text messages on how and when to kill the mother. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charges but waived a release hearing that would have allowed the judge to set bond. She will remain in federal prison until January when her next hearing is set.

Does double jeopardy apply to foreign prosecutions?

No. It is only intra-circuit, which can make things frustrating and confusing. If, for example, a defendant is charged under state law and the jury comes back with a verdict of not guilty, the federal government can step in and re-prosecute the charges. This almost never happens unless the issue is extremely high-profile and the stakes in a conviction are extremely high. 

One thing many folks are not aware of is that double jeopardy, the legal concept by which an individual can only be tried once for the same crime, does not apply across jurisdictions. While it is exceedingly rare for the federal government to pursue a prosecution that was already lost at the state level, it is much more likely in cases when the defendant is acquitted. It is also more likely in cases where the federal government has a valid reason to pursue the charges under federal law, and the cases they do pursue after failed state prosecutions tend to be high-profile high-stakes cases like Rittenhouse’s trial.

The jury was made aware by the judge that if they convicted Rittenhouse on any of the homicide charges, it would reduce the likelihood of a second trial filed by the federal government. On the other hand, it increased the possibility that Rittenhouse would be convicted in this trial. In other words, the jurors were instructed as to the consequences of their decision. 

What Federal Charges Could Rittenhouse Face?

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