Iowa Supeme Court Ruling

by on May 10, 2010

Analysis-Felony Murder. The Supreme Court held that a forcible felony must be committed independent of the murder in order for the felony-murder rule to apply. The Court reasoned the commission of any forcible felony that immediately proceeds a murder could “bootstrap” any charge into a murder in the first degree and all the distinctions between murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree would disappear. The Court concluded a person pointing a gun at a person (willful injury) and then immediately murdering that person is all one action and the acts merge into just one crime. The Court essentially stated that if the forcible felony merges into the same actions as murder (i.e. pointing the gun and then shooting the gun), then the prosecution must prove a forcible felony independent of the murder for the felony-murder rule to apply (i.e. robbing a store then shooting a clerk while leaving the store).

Opinion Ameded by Order of Court. After the original opinion in this case was filed by the Supreme Court on August 25, 2006, a petition for rehearing was filed. The court amended the original opinion. The Supreme Court held that the rule of law announced in this case is applicable only to the Heemstra case and any other case not resolved on direct appeal in which the issue has been raised in district court. Rehearing was denied.

Court Ruling

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