Four people, including three teens, have been charged in a carjacking spree that ended with the death of a 55-year-old woman. Police say the perpetrators carjacked two women, set a pickup truck on fire, and then caused a deadly crash after a police chase. The 17-year-old driver has been charged with murder and three counts of aggravated fleeing. Another 17-year-old has been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and unlawful use of a weapon. Others are facing charges of trespass to a vehicle and weapons violations.
The teens carjacked two vehicles in a short time before setting fire to a pickup truck they had stolen earlier. At that point, police became aware of the teens, and a chase ensued. The chase reached speeds of 60 mph and only stopped when the stolen vehicle crashed into a Toyota driven by the 55-year-old victim.
Understanding the Murder Charge
Illinois permits felony murder charges in a handful of situations. Felony murder is a controversial rule that allows prosecutors to pursue murder charges against suspects who may not have intended to cause the death of another party. In these cases, the defendants intended to cause harm to the party or otherwise place the other party in a situation that could lead to their death. As an example of the felony murder rule, if a suspect holds up a gas station and the gun goes off accidentally, killing the clerk, they can still be charged with first-degree murder because they placed the clerk in harm’s way.
Similar rules make it unlawful to flee the police. However, some states take this way too far. In Alabama, for instance, four teens running from police were charged with the murder of a fifth who was shot by a police officer as they were trying to escape. In Illinois, if you cause the death of a member of the public while fleeing police in a motor vehicle, you can be charged with their murder. Thus, the driver mentioned above is in serious trouble, while the other three carjackers will likely ride out their sentences within a couple of years.
To pursue a felony murder charge, you must establish that the defendant was committing a felony at the time of the death. You do not need to establish that the defendant intended to kill the individual, but you must show that the defendant had no concern over the victim’s well-being, either. Additionally, you must establish that the victim would not be in danger but for the defendant’s actions.
While the teen may be able to plead the charges down to vehicular homicide, prosecutors can pursue the felony murder charge and have a strong enough basis to win that suit based on a felony murder theory.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who have been charged with serious crimes in Cook County. Call today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.