27 January 2005

Suspect in Train Crash Is Charged With Multiple Murder Counts

The guy who started to commit suicide by train and then decided against it - bailing out but leaving the stuck vehicle for the train to hit - is facing 11 capital murder charges.

7 comments:

BigFire said...

It would appear that his injuries (and attempted suicide) occured AFTER the crash. This greatly reduced his temporary insanity defense angle.

carpundit said...

I'm confused by the capital murder charges. The news stories made it seem as if he were trying to kill himself and changed his mind, but couldn't get the car off the tracks.

That doesn't seem like sufficient intent to charge murder. What am I missing? (Other than the newspapers may be wrong.)

Aren't all murders necessarily intentional killings?

Ken Lammers said...

carpundit,

I don't know California law but I'd think they are proceeding under a "felony murder" theory. In a felony murder a person commits first-degree murder if any death results from the commission of violent felonies whether the death was intentional or not. Basically, if you commit a crime wherein there is a significant chance that someone could be killed it is a capital murder if someone is killed.
.

carpundit said...

Ken,
You may be right about that, but my memory of felony murder statutes is that they apply to foreseeable homicides in the course of committing an, often-enumerated, *predicate* felony. Typically, I think, those include burglary, robbery, rape.

Maybe there's a derailing-a-train predicate. Maybe there's a traffic-related predicate. Maybe there's a suicide-attempt predicate.

Still, getting the gas chamber for being a dumb-ass who accidentally killed a dozen others doesn't seem right.

Bear in mind, I support the death penalty in general. And I think nearly all defendants are guilty. It still doesn't feel right.

CP

carpundit said...

Ken,

It's a train thing, after all.

California Penal Code section 189 is the felony murder section. One of the predicates is -I kid you not- "train wrecking."

CP

Ken Lammers said...

Yeah, I found it under 190.2 a (17)(I) too.

Ken Lammers said...

But I think the prosecutor will have problems with Penal Code sec. 219 which requires the act causing the wreck to have been done with the intent to derail.