Last year, three Philadelphia women were charged with various felony charges in connected with an alleged beating of a homeless man, Robert Barnes, at a gas station in the Olney section of Philadelphia. The incident was captured by the gas station’s surveillance video camera. News reports indicate that the homeless man and the son of one of the women charged with his murder pumped gas for patrons to earn some money. The incident is alleged to have occurred after the boy falsely told his mother that Barnes had assaulted him.
Still images from that video have been plastered all over the media. The homeless man was in a coma for several months before he died in late November 2015. The charges were then upgraded to murder in December.
Three Juveniles Also Charged
Three juveniles were also charged over the incident. Earlier this year, one of them pleaded guilty in Family Court to Third Degree Murder. Last year, the other two pleaded guilty to various charges. However, these juvenile cases may not be over yet, as prosecutors have indicated that murder charges may still be filed against the other two juveniles.
The most serious charges against the three women are the murder charges; they also face other charges as well. While it is not yet clear which type of murder they are charged with, it is, in all likelihood, murder in the second degree (AKA: felony murder).
Felony murder charges are often filed in cases where a death occurs as a result of the commission of another crime, such as aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon (gun, bat, knife, etc.). The death does not have to occur immediately. Like this recent case shows, criminal charges are often upgraded from assault to murder after the victim dies. In addition, accomplices, such as a get-away driver, can be charged along with the principal actor. A conviction for second degree murder in Pennsylvania is very serious and results in a mandatory life in prison sentence, without the possibility of parole.
In the most recent case, news reports indicate that each of the three women participated in the attack. One used a hammer, another used a piece of wood from a chair, and the other used mace. Because of the felony murder rule, each woman can face second degree murder charges. Their criminal attorneys will probably argue that the most serious crime is third degree murder or manslaughter, but not murder.
Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers – Murder Charges
Our lawyers have handled many high profile criminal murder cases throughout the greater Philadelphia area including Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties. Our criminal lawyers also handle murder cases in the Scranton/Lackawanna County area. Call for a free consultation. (215) 564-0644
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Source: philly.com, Juvenile pleads to 3rd-degree murder (January 5, 2016)