Apologies in advance for not having the cites at hand (and to manny and Chronos if this devolves into a GD); this is from my memory of a front-page article in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle.
They ran a story on death row inmates and their lead story was that of a fellow whose attorneys don’t deny his cognizant participation in the commission of the crime that lead to shooting death of a police officer. Possibly our newest martyr. Anyway, apparently he and his fellows committed an armed robbery upon the scene of which happened an off-duty officer who was not in uniform. Said officer shifted into cop gear and attempted to arrest the errant folk. To paraphrase the words of the inmate (since I don’t have the article at hand to quote) ‘He didn’t ID himself as a police officer until a second before I shot him.’
The argument of the counsel representing the inmate contends that this should not have been tried as a capital case because he didn’t know it was a cop he was killing (never mind that, AFAIK, and IANAL, homocide committed in the course of a robbery is a capital offense in Texas - perhaps they’re arguing that the crime was committed during the post-robbery pursuit and should not be considered as part and parcel of the initiating event).
Ignoring for the moment the inmate’s incautious statement, I must wonder: is there a legal basis for acknowledging that, while the end results of one’s efforts was the commission of an X+ level crime, since the subject only intended to commit an X level crime and was unaware that conditions existed that made it an X+ level crime, said subject can only be considered guilty of the X level crime?
That’s not the way I’d thought that it worked.
In a way this reminds me of the old UL that if you had a fender-bender with a USPS truck you were guilty of interfering with the U.S. Mail (though not intentionally).