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Bruce v. State

Citation. 317 Md. 642
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Citation317 Md. 642
317 Md. 642

Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Leon Bruce (Defendant) and two other men entered victim Barry Tensor’s shoe store with the intention of robbing it. Upon finding the cash register empty, the Defendant pointed his gun at the victim and threatened him. The Defendant shot the victim in the stomach, seriously wounding him.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Attempted felony murder is not a crime in Maryland.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Thus, to prove attempted murder in the first degree, the State was required to prove that the defendant had the wilful, deliberate, and premeditated intent to kill, and that he committed some overt act towards that end.

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Facts. The Defendant and two men entered the victim’s shoe store masked and armed with a handgun. The victim was ordered to open the cash register. Finding it empty, the Defendant aimed the gun at the victim’s face. The Defendant threatened to kill the victim. The victim tried to get out of the way and while the circumstances are not exactly clear, the Defendant shot the victim in the stomach. The Defendant was charged with attempted felony murder.

Issue. Is attempted felony murder a crime in Maryland?

Held. No. A conviction for felony murder requires no specific intent to kill. A criminal attempt requires a specific intent to commit the offense, coupled with a substantial step toward committing the offense beyond mere preparation. Hence, since attempt requires a specific intent to commit the offense, but felony murder requires no specific intent to kill, attempted felony murder cannot be a crime.

Discussion. Attempted felony murder cannot be a crime since felony murder does not require a specific intent to kill. In other words, one cannot attempt to commit a crime he or she does not intend to commit.

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