A, a poorly paid baker, one day watches a documentary on methamphetamine (meth), an illegal drug that, in its purest form, can fetch a high price on the street. Weary of a baker’s meagre living, A decides to quit baking and instead cook and sell meth from her home. Initially, A does quite well; she sells the meth, minimizes costs, and reaches the right clientele by packaging and presenting the meth as baked goods. Eventually, business grows to the point where A decides to hire an intern, B, to help meet the growing demand.
Unfortunately, B is not as discrete as A; B soon attracts police attention by posting tacky “meth and chocolate” and “crème de meth” posters around the local mall. One night, a police officer, D, tails B back to A’s home, where D recognizes the telltale signs of meth manufacture. D obtains an emergency arrest and search warrant from a local judge and then calls in reinforcements, preparing to raid the home.
Inside, A and B are cooking a new and experimental meth recipe over a burner. D knocks on the door, and A goes to answer it. As she does, she instructs B to keep steady heat on the cooking batch. Looking out the window, B sees the police cars, panics, and flees. So doing, he knocks over the beaker containing the meth and runs out the back door, just as a police officer is crossing behind the home. The officer fires his gun. The bullet misses B, but it hits—and kills—an innocent bystander, C. B escapes, just as A sees the warrant and admits D into the home.
As D enters the home, A notices the overturned beaker dribbling hot, liquid meth onto the counter, near an open flame. Fearing an explosion, A says to D, “We have to run.” A escapes the home on time to save herself. However, the explosion engulfs D, inflicting serious injuries, due to which D dies three days later in the hospital.
In a common-law jurisdiction, A is charged with manufacture of methamphetamine, as well as two counts of felony murder for the deaths of C and D. Manufacture of methamphetamine is defined as “participating in the manufacture of methamphetamine with the intent that methamphetamine or a substance containing methamphetamine be produced.” Intent is defined as “the conscious objective to engage in the prohibited conduct or cause the prohibited result.” The applicable statute defines first-degree felony murder as “all murder that is committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, mayhem, or manufacture of methamphetamine.”
Assume that the prosecution can prove the above facts at A’s trial, and that at all relevant times, A and B were acting as accomplices.
QuestionIn this common-law jurisdiction, is A liable for first-degree felony murder for the deaths of C and D, under either the agency approach or the proximate-cause approach to felony murder? Explain.
In this common-law jurisdiction, is A liable for first-degree felony murder for the deaths of C and D, under either the agency approach or the proximate-cause approach to felony murder? Explain.