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State v. Sophophone

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 270 Kan. 703, 19 P.3d 70, 2001 Kan. 149.

Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Sanexay Sophophone, appeals his conviction for felony murder for the death of his co-felon.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A defendant cannot be guilty of felony murder for the death of his co-felon caused by the lawful acts of police officers in apprehending the co-felon.


Facts. The Defendant and three others conspired to burglarize a residence. The resident reported the break in, and police officers responded to call. The individuals all ran. The Defendant was chased and apprehended. His co-felon, Somphone Sysoumphone, was chased, caught, and ordered to the ground. With his face down to the ground, Sysoumphone raised up and fired at the police officer. The officer returned fire and killed Sysoumphone. The Defendant was charged with and convicted of felony murder on the theory that the Defendant proximately caused Sysoumphone’s death by setting in motion the acts causing his death. This appeal ensued on the issue of whether the death of a co-felon can constitute felony murder.

Issue. Can the Defendant be convicted of felony murder for the killing of a co-felon not caused by his acts but by the lawful acts of a police officer acting in self-defense in the course and scope of his duties in apprehending the co-felon fleeing from an aggravated burglary?

Content Type: Brief


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