Challenging the rule of felony murder across states

February 19, 2019 - 3:15 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — California recently eliminated the felony murder rule, and Pennsylvania is considering the same change.

Ten years ago, Neko Wilson planned a robbery in Fresno, California, and waited in the getaway car. The robbery went wrong and the homeowners were killed. 

Wilson was convicted of murder even though he never even entered the house because under the felony murder rule, if someone is killed during the commission of a felony, all participants in the felony can be found guilty of murder — even those who didn't pull the trigger. 

California passed a law in September that revises the rule so that in order to convict anyone other than the actual killer of murder, the accomplice must have had the intent to kill. The law also provides for the release of people previously convicted for felony murder, like Wilson, who recently walked free.  

The San Diego District Attorney announced he will challenge the new law; meanwhile, the Pennsylvania legislature is currently debating a bill like California's, aimed at curtailing the charge of felony murder.

So right now, you can let legislators know where you stand on the issue.