Scranton Teens Face Second Degree Murder Charges
This summer, three Scranton PA area teens were charged with multiple counts including second degree murder and second degree murder of a law enforcement officer. The teens have been charged as adults.
Convictions for second degree murder in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania carry a mandatory life in prison sentence. Currently, the cases are on hold pending defense motions for decertification (i.e., moving the cases to the juvenile system).
Alleged Facts of This Murder Case in Scranton
The three teens are alleged to have stolen a car (joy riding). Eventually they exited the car and were chased on foot by police. One officer jumped over a wall and fell, a drop of roughly 15 feet. The officer landed on his back and sustained serious injuries, including a head injury. He died a day later.
Initially, the teens were charged with robbery, gun possession and related charges. After the officer’s death, the teens were charged with murder. As of August 2015, the three defendants were being held in the Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of bail.
The Recent Murder Case in Scranton Poses Interesting Legal Issues
This recent murder case in Scranton presents interesting legal issues. The three defendants are charged with second degree murder (felony murder), i.e., a death that occurred during the commission of a felony (robbery). Get info about the current state of second degree murder (AKA: felony murder) law in Pennsylvania.
If recent news reports are correct, the officer died while chasing the teens and misjudged the distance to the ground below the wall. Thus, he fell some 15 feet to his death. There’s a legal question here—should these teens spend the rest of their lives in prison for the tragic, accidental death of an officer? Nothing has been reported suggesting that any one of the teens pushed the officer or otherwise took direct action leading to his jumping over the wall.
There is certainly room to argue that the teens are not criminally liable for the officer’s death. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the case. Stay tuned.
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Source: http://thetimes-tribune.com/, Three teens charged with two counts of murder in Scranton patrolman’s death (August 6, 2015)