Originally posted by riddle6
Please don't laugh at my ignorance here, but TWO counts of first degree murder per victim? I've never heard of that before. Obviously its probably my
lack of knowledge, but that seems almost extreme. I didn't even know they could charge you for killing without remorse.
This is why I love ATS, I learn something new (even if it comes out of terrible events) everyday.
Maybe this will help people understand... in general anyways.
If you walk up to a person and shoot him with a gun you committed a crime (in general since state laws vary) -
Unlawful use of a weapon
Armed Criminal Action
1st degree assault
murder (if the person dies).
If you do the above and the person is wounded, and the shooter then moves on to others and then comes back to finsih the job he just walked into more
charges. There is another term called a lesser included offense as well. As an example if a person breaks into someone elses house, they can be
charged with either trespassing or burglary but not both.
In order to enter the house where you had no legal basis to be, trespassing is a requirement for burglary.
If a person is intoxicated and causes a motor vehicle accident resulting in death, the drunk driver can be charged with either DWI or manslaughter
(again states use different terms so in general) but not both. The state of the driver who caused the accident is a lesser included item in the
criteria for manslaughter.
The other thing taken into account is mental mindset of the person of interest as well as their intent. In this case based on the evidence thus far it
looks luike the intent of the shooter was to cause as much death and destruction as possible. By employing means that forced patrons into kill zones
is taken into account (smoke bomb etc).
The evidence suggests the intent of the shooter was to kill peeople. Here is a possible breakdown -
Those who were shot and killed = murder charges
Those who were shot but not killed = 1st assault / attempted murder charges.
Those who were present, regardless if they were shot at or in the lobby = potential assault / attempted murder.
The shooter showed a depraved indifference which opens up special circumstance charges / modifiers.
Any person present in the theatre could add a charge of unlawful use of a weapon = 1 charge for each individual present (same for all the charges =
each person is its own separate case so to speak).
In situations like this, and before going bonkers at least here me out, what occurs is essentially whats called a buffet for the prosecution. That
means every single charge that is possible will be used. Why that is done is to take into account possible challenges to evidence which can result in
some charges being thrown out / disqualified.
It allows for leverage for the prosecution when it comes to plea bargains. The prosecution will offer a plea deal (they dont have to keep in mind)
which usually includes a concession from the PA. An example would be in exchange for pleading guilty the PA will not seek the death penalty etc etc
the goal of the defense attorney is to ensure the best possible outcome for their client, and what people dont really think about is that extends to
the scenario when the evidence against their client is overwhelming. At that point the goal of the defense would be to work out an agreement that
favors their client still (sentences running concurrent instead of consecutively, access to psychiatric facilities, etc etc etc).
In addition to the basic and well known options of guilty or not guilty, there are a few others terms people are not so familiar with. There is a no
contest plea along with an alford plea. Those usually are used when the evidence is overwhelming to the extent the accused / defense admit that if it
goes to trial they would be found guilty. Any time a person accused pleas guilty, they are usually required to allocute.
Thats when the accused goes before the court and gives a moment by moment account of their actions and what they did, why they did it etc.
In this case at the theatre, there was no one individual who was targeted. That means the prosecution can argue that just about every single
individual in that theatre, as well as the parking lot since that is where the guy was located and taken into custody, are all potential
edit on 30-7-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)