Brief Fact Summary. A man mistook his friend for a turkey when he shot and killed him while they were hunting.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A convicted felon possession of a firearm can be inherently dangerous felony that serves as the predicate felony for felony murder.
A conviction on one count and acquittal on another related count may reflect a compromise or lenity by the jury rather than inconsistent factual conclusions, and Georgia courts generally will not look behind the jury's decision to convict on certain counts and acquit on other counts.View Full Point of Law
Issue. does the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon be inherently dangerous felony that serves as the predicate felony for felony murder?
Held. (Fletcher, C.J.) Yes. A convicted felon possession of a firearm can be inherently dangerous felony that serves as the predicate felony for felony murder. The circumstances surrounding the case such as the intentional firing of the gun, drinking before and during the hunt, knowing that the potential victims were nearby and firing an unsafe shot all demonstrates that Hines’s (D) possession of a firearm as a convicted felon was an inherently dangerous activity that can support felony murder. The court affirmed the ruling.
Dissent. (Sears, J.) this case is quite different from Ford v State, 423 S.E. 2d 255 (Ga. 1992) which did not lay down a test for identifying inherently dangerous activities. The possession of firearm by Hines (D) was not an inherently dangerous activity but could be seen as negligent. Hence, for persons whose moral culpability warrants such severe punishment, the sentence of life in prison should be reserved.
Discussion. subtle distinction not stated in the casebook excerpts is turned on by Hines (D). The possession of the firearm was not focused on by the majority or the dissent as it suggested they did, instead, the manner in which the defendant possessed the firearm was the focus of the justices.