A Jacksonville man was sentenced this month to more than 20 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge, even though he was not the one that pulled the trigger. In fact, the man and his 27-year-old cousin were armed and in bulletproof vests when they went to a Southside apartment complex to commit a robbery, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But, while the man’s cousin was inside the apartment, a fight broke out and the cousin was shot in the head, the newspaper reported. The defendant was then charged with second-degree felony murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, the newspaper reported. Both charges are first-degree felonies.
In Florida, a person can be charged with felony murder if someone dies during the commission of a felony. So the act of the original felony can allow someone to be charged with murder. In this case, the defendant was not even in the apartment at the time his cousin was killed. But it was the act of planning the robbery, to the point of becoming armed and wearing a bulletproof vest, which was a felony on its own and allowed for the felony murder charge to be filed. So in proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt, the state must only prove two things: That the defendant was committing a felony and that someone was killed. A jury convicted the defendant this summer on the felony murder and the conspiracy to commit armed robbery charges. He was sentenced to 22 years on the murder charge and 15 years on the armed robbery. The judge chose to run the sentences concurrently, meaning he will serve them both at the same time and only serve the 22 years. If the judge chose to run the sentences consecutively, then he would have to serve both sentences and be in prison for 37 years. Concurrent sentences are far more common, but there are certain Jacksonville Gun Crimes that require judges to issue consecutive sentences when guns are fired and minimum mandatory sentences apply.
The man who shot the cousin was not charged at all in the case. Prosecutors ruled the shooting was in self-defense. State law allows people to respond with deadly force if someone enters their home, or if they feel they are in danger of great bodily harm or death. Our Jacksonville Robbery Crimes Attorney will fully investigate the charges against you or your loved and sit down to go over a range of options so you can make the best decision going forward in the case.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.