Individuals charged with second degree murder in Philadelphia face serious consequences. Under Pennsylvania criminal laws, second degree murder is defined in Section 2502(b) of Pennsylvania Statutes Title 25 (Murder), which provides:
A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the second degree when it is committed while defendant was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony.
In other words, it is an intentional killing that is not planned or premeditated, caused while committing a felony. Felony crimes include robbery, arson, burglary, kidnapping or rape. It does not matter if the defendant is a principal or an accomplice. If a death, even an accidental death, occurs during the course of committing a felony, the principal and the accomplice of the felony face second degree murder. It is also known as the “felony murder rule” in Philadelphia. Individuals charged with felony murder face life imprisonment without parole.
Even if the individual does not commit the killing, e.g., pull the trigger, he still faces felony murder. This is what happened to a teen who was recently convicted of second degree murder of a Philadelphia man that occurred in 2015.
Related: Philadelphia Murder Charges
Brandon Smith, who was 15 at the time, was charged with attempted robbery and shooting of a 51 year old man who was walking his dog. He was found guilty of second degree murder earlier this month. He was also found guilty on two counts of conspiracy, robbery, and possession of a weapon.
According to authorities, Smith and 2 other youths, Tavon Hamilton and Alston Zou-Rutherford, had just finished playing basketball in March 2015 when they decided to rob someone and targeted the victim. Even though the victim pleaded for his life, he was shot by Hamilton, who was also 15 at the time. Hamilton has since pleaded guilty to third degree murder last year and was sentenced to 25 to 80 years.
As mentioned above, a conviction of second degree murder results in a life sentence without parole. Even though Smith was tried as an adult, he is still a juvenile. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that juveniles may not be sentenced to life in prison without having a sentencing hearing. Smith’s sentencing hearing is set for July of this year.
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David Nenner, Esq. has been a criminal defense lawyer since 1985. He has tried numerous criminal trials in Philadelphia. If you have a question about a criminal charge or case, contact Mr. Nenner. 215.564.0644
*Source: Source: www.philly.com (Teen guilty of 2nd-degree murder of Philly man walking dog)