Tag Archives: felony murder

Here’s the NBC story I was in Last Night

Marian Williams

Marian Williams

NBC did a follow-up story on the case of Marian Williams, charged with 3 counts of First Degree Murder for the young boys that died in a fire she allegedly started. She’s also charged with arson and attempted murder. I spoke to NBC about some of her prior history. She’s being held in the Desoto County jail without bond.

via NBC-2: http://www.nbc-2.com/clip/13170970/memorial-growing-questions-piling-up-about-alleged-arsonists-past


Florida Man Killed by Alligator when he Jumps in the Water to Hide Out from the Cops

matthew riggins

Matthew Riggins

Another day… another criminal reaps his own downfall.  Last month in Florida, Matthew Riggins was killed fleeing from cops investigating a burglary in Brevard County. His body was found floating in the Barefoot Bay Lake approximately 10 days later. An 11-foot alligator was found near his body… it was euthanized, and examination of its stomach revealed that it had caused Mr. Riggins’ demise.

matthew riggins mia

Riggins’ Missing Poster

It goes without saying that crime doesn’t pay. Riggins and an accomplice were spotted trying to break into a house (he also contacted his girlfriend before and during his attempted burglary and escape). Many times, the flight from the crime exacerbates the problem, often worse than the crime itself. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an article titled: “Don’t Jump in the River When the Cops are Looking for You.” While that guy had to be rescued by law enforcement, it certainly can get a lot worse, as Mr. Riggins found out the hard way.

The inherently dangerous nature of criminal activity and flight from law enforcement raises the likelihood of harm occurring during the crime. See, for instance, the clowns in Garcia v. State, two of which killed themselves in the course of a robbery. The stakes are higher in Florida, not only due to the canals and other waterways that are so prevalent, but also for the nasty critters that hang out there. This is the second criminal to be killed by an alligator that we are aware of, and a third survived an attack just a couple years ago. In fact, there have been only 3 deaths caused by alligators in Florida since the start of 2007… and 2 of them were wanted men fleeing the scene of the crime. Don’t break the law, and don’t jump in alligator infested waters to try to get away!


Man Gets Life After Lending his Car to his Roommate

  • His Roommate used the car in a robbery where someone was killed
  • He was prosecuted as a principle under the felony murder rule
  • Florida mandates a life sentence, with no chance of parole
Ryan Holle

Ryan Holle

This was several years ago, but Jalopnik ran this article on Friday: “Guy Loans His Car To His Roomie, Gets Life In Prison“. It was the first I’d seen of it, the original story ran in the New York Times. Both are critical of the felony murder rule, which treats everyone involved in a crime the same as the killer. It is not critical enough of Florida’s draconian sentencing laws that mandate life without parole, even for the most minor of accomplices.

Ryan Holle, a 20-year-old from Pensacola, lent his roommate his Chevy Metro, which the roommate used to transport some friends to a robbery of  drug dealer. The drug dealer’s 18-year-old daughter was bludgeoned to death during the robbery. It is a brutal crime, and since the killing occurred during a felony, all the robbers are considered guilty of murder. But wait, Holle didn’t come on the robbery, did he? It doesn’t matter, under the principle theory, even the most minor accomplice is just as guilty as the rest (excepting accomplices after the fact). In Florida, most felony murder is First Degree Murder, which means that everyone involved, even the minor actor on a principle theory, is subject to the same life in prison sentence. Life is mandatory, even if the judge wanted to give him 50 years, he would be prohibited. Anyone convicted of First Degree Murder in Florida dies in prison.

Holle says he thought the roommate was really just going out for food. However, there was evidence that he knew they were planning a robbery. That’s all it takes, if he knows the plans, and aids, abets, or encourages them in any way, he is guilty under the principle theory. The prosecutor did offer a reduced charge, that would have allowed his release in 10 years. He rejected that offer, not thinking the worst would happen. If you Google his name, there are several websites that discuss his case. He is coming up on 10 years since he was sentenced to Life in prison. Be careful to whom you lend your car.

Grand Jury declines to indict teens in Chinese food delivery killing

In a surprise, a Grand Jury declined to indict 2 teens that had been arrested and charged with Felony Murder for allegedly killing a delivery-person during a robbery.  It’s a surprise, because there is a lower burden of proof before a Grand Jury, and the State can usually get their indictment.  The old saying is, the state could indict a ham sandwich if they wanted to.  This Grand Jury isn’t biting on that sandwich, so far. 

According press reports, the Grand Jury stated that the only evidence of their involvement was an admission of one of the juveniles, and that they other one may have had an alibi.  They are slated for release, shortly.  According to the News-Press, the FM PD will continue to investigate.  If additional evidence can be presented to the Grand Jury, an indictment can still be obtained.  Also, the state could decide to direct file an Information (or a Juvenile petition) against the teens if they think they can prove it at trial- so the case is not over, for sure.

#Eddie Leonard, #Dejerion Stewart, #Zhi Wei Huang