Felony murder: If a death occurs in the commission of a felony, all the perps are guilty of first degrtee murder.
e.g If two guys rob a bank and one of them kills a guard, they are both guilty of first degree murder even if the non-shooter had no intention of hurting anybody. What’s more … If, instead, a guard had killed one of the robbers, the surviving robber would be guilty of 1st degree murder.
Also (IIRC) it was not determined whether Hernandez was the shooter.
The jury decided that even if Hernandez did not himself pull the trigger, he intended the death of Lloyd, and by his actions was an essential contributor to his death. That makes him guilty of first-degree murder.
Hernandez’s lawyer made a Hail Mary pass in his summation, where he tried to take the tack you suggest: he admitted Hernandez was at the scene, but did not intend Lloyd’s death, which would have indeed made him an accessory instead of a murderer. But the jury didn’t buy it.
Remember, a murder conviction is only in part a question of “What did the defendant do?” There’s also a strong question of “What did the defendant intend?” Causing death is part of a murder conviction, but the other part is intending to cause death. Generally, English common law recognizes a very considerable, if not dominant role for intentions, that is, to a significant degree it’s what you mean to do that determines whether you’ve committed a crime, and if so how serious it is. That’s in agreement with our general Western ideas that men have free choice, and the most important role of a justice system is to encourage people to choose correctly – to intend the right things, and not intend the wrong things.
If it’s any consolation, the British Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada agree with you. Parliament has abolished the common law feline murder rule, and the SCC has held it to be unconstitutional, as contrary to the Canadian equivalent of due process: intention to kill is required to support a charge of murder.
Disagree. A felony is potentially dangerous. Perps are going to use extreme measures in an effort to escape capture, so a death is a foreseeable possibility. As the felony is premeditated, so is the death. If you don’t think it’s fair, then don’t commit a felony.
How would you handle this: The victim of a kidnapping dies, but the police are unable to determine who caused the death. Should they both escape a murder conviction?
People act jointly in things all the time. The partner would not have been in a position to be able to murder the guard without both people taking part in the robbery.
Is the guy that waited in the get away car but didn’t take money out of the bank less culpable for the robbery? He didn’t take money out of the bank. He did not threaten tellers with guns to get the money.
That’s actually the more lenient version of the felony murder rule, the “agency theory”. Under the proximate cause theory any killing during a violent felony makes you a murderer - even the police shooting your accomplice.