When a person kills another person it is called homicide, regardless of intent or any other details surrounding the incident. The recent shooting of a 15 year old Springfield girl by her 17 year old boyfriend is believed by authorities to be an accident, however the 17 year old has been indicted for second-degree murder.
So what is second-degree murder, and how could such an unfortunate incident be potentially classified as such? Murder, specifically, is when a person kills another person knowingly or causes bodily harm to the extent that the person later dies. Second degree murder is committed in the heat of the moment. It is intentional, but not premeditated. The killing must be done with “malice afterthought”, which is the impulsive intention to kill at the time of the murder. Second degree murder also applies during “Killings after An Act to Cause Serious Bodily Harm.”
If a person violently attacks another person with intent to cause harm that may be fatal, this can be categorized as second degree murder. Killings resulting from “Depraved Indifference to Human Life” are those which are committed as a result of actions such as shooting into a crowd that imply indifference to the human consequences of those actions. “FelonyMurder” is another type of second degree murder that occurs during the course of a felony. In these cases, prosecutors don’t have to prove intent, only that the killing was a consequence of the felony.
In the recent shooting involving the two teenagers, the girl’s 13 year old brother witnessed the shooting and told investigators that the boy was spinning the loaded chamber of the revolver when the cylinder snapped shut and the gun went off. The 17 year old suspect panicked and fled the scene but was arrested later at a relative’s home.
It looks likely that this was a tragic, unfortunate accident. However the penalties for second-degree murder can be serious in Massachusetts: maximum life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 15 years. If you or a loved one has been accused of murder and need a criminal defense lawyer for second degree murder, it is essential that you obtain a qualified attorney who can fight for your rights.
Please contact Murphy & Rudolf, LLP to find out how we can help.