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Plot to steal cash and marijuana leads to felony murder charges

An alleged plot involving the theft of marijuana and $15,000 in cash has resulted in the filing of murder charges against four Indiana men in Lake County. The case illustrates the effect of the "felony murder rule," a doctrine stating that anyone involved in a felony that results in one or more deaths can be charged with murder, regardless of whether the accused was the actual murderer. The defendant faces homicide and other serious criminal charges.

According to the police affidavit, three men planned to rob a residence in Hobart in hope of stealing a safe containing $15,000 in cash and an undisclosed amount of marijuana. One of the men allegedly asked the defendant to act as a lookout during the robbery. When police responded to reports of gunshots being fired at the scene of the intended burglary, they found one man lying in the driveway with a gunshot wound to his face.

Police interviewed the homeowner, who allegedly was the intended victim, and he told police that he was accosted by four men as he was returning home. The man allegedly entered his home while the four men waited outside. The homeowner yelled at his girlfriend, who was in the house, to grab a rifle and don a ballistic vest. She apparently obeyed the command. The police affidavit states that the homeowner and his girlfriend exchanged gunfire with the suspects, but they were not able to establish who fired the shot that killed the suspect and alleged leader of the plot. Police then chased the defendant for several blocks before apprehending him. The wounded man was taken to a local hospital where he died from his wound. The remaining two suspects have not yet been apprehended.

Police decided to apply the felony murder rule in charging the defendant who was apprehended. He faces charges of murder in perpetration of a robbery, two counts of attempted murder and related burglary and battery charges. These are serious charges, but the defendant is entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, anyone facing similar charges may benefit from consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney about the law of the case and the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: Northwest Indiana Times, "Court records: Murder charges filed in deadly plot to target Hobart drug dealer and steal marijuana, $15K from safe," Lauren Cross, July 26, 2017

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