State prosecutors dropped the first-degree murder charges against a woman inside a home where two people were killed when police raided the suspected meth lab. Instead, the woman pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, one for the detective who was shot and the other for the man who shot the detective and was then killed by police, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman also pleaded guilty to two more drug charges and was sentenced last month to a combined 30 years in state prison, the newspaper reported. Had the state not reduced the first-degree murder charge, she would have been sentenced to mandatory life in prison. The only two sentences possible for first –degree murder are life in prison and the death penalty.
The interesting piece of this Clay County Murder Case is that four people were charged with murder but never fired a shot. One was sentenced to two life sentences and another received 50 years in state prison. The fourth, who was 16 at the time and living in the house with his mother (who received 50 years), has not yet been to trial. Florida law, which applied in this Clay County Murder Case, allows the state to charge a person with murder if he or she was committing a felony at the time when a murder occurred. Because the people inside the home were either making, selling or in possession of methamphetamines, the charges could apply. Police said they smelled cooking methamphetamines when they approached the home, the newspaper reported. So the people inside the home were all charged with both the murder of the police detective and the man who shot him, and was subsequently shot by the police.
Felony murder can also be charged in Clay County Murder Cases where, for example, a store clerk has a heart attack when a gunman is robbing the store. The only elements that need to be proven are: the defendant committed a felony and someone was killed. It is unusual for the state to charge first-degree murder, as it did in this Clay County Murder Case, but within the bounds of the law.
Under Florida law, you don’t have to be the one who pulls the trigger to be facing a murder charge. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney can explain the variables that can induce different charges, and fully investigate the case against you or your loved one.
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 Clay County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.