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People v. Gladman

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Gladman (Defendant) was convicted of felony murder after killing a police officer who found him fifteen minutes after he robbed a delicatessen and fled.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The determination of whether a homicide occurred during the immediate flight from a felony should not be based on arbitrary court-created boundaries, but should be made by a jury after consideration of all of the relevant circumstances.

    Facts.

    Defendant robbed a delicatessen and fled. The police radioed his description and an officer found Defendant in a parking lot a half-mile from the deli fifteen minutes later. Defendant shot and killed the police officer and was convicted of first-degree felony murder since the murder occurred during the immediate flight from the robbery. Defendant appealed.

    Issue.

    Should a determination of whether a homicide occurred during the immediate flight from a felony be made by a jury after consideration of all of the relevant circumstances?

    Held.

    (Jasen, J.) Yes. The determination of whether a homicide occurred during the immediate flight from a felony should not be based on arbitrary court-created boundaries, but should be made by a jury after consideration of all of the relevant circumstances. Courts have created arbitrary limits of a crime’s beginning and end, in determining whether to apply the felony-murder rule. These limits often lead to distinctions without a purpose. The better approach is to submit all relevant evidence to a jury and allow them to make the determination, if the facts of the case warrant it. Here, the shooting occurred less than 15 minutes after the robbery and Defendant was still obviously worried about escaping capture. This was enough evidence to submit the issue to the jury. Affirmed.

    Discussion.

    The determination on the felony-murder rule was important in this case because it was the basis for a finding of first-degree murder. In most jurisdictions that apply the felony-murder rule, the underlying felonies are separated into murder one felonies and murder two felonies. In New York, robbery was a murder one felony, leading to a conviction for first-degree murder.


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