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State senator wants to remove felony murder rule

Daylin Leach, a Pennsylvania state senator, hopes to get legislation passed that will get rid of the felony murder rule for second-degree murder. Currently, a mandatory life sentence awaits those who are convicted of second-degree murder in the state.

The Democratic senator said that the felony murder statute is not in line with punishing people for crimes "they commit or intend to commit in away commensurate with the crimes."

Leach said there around 400 inmates who were convicted of second-degree murder that did not commit the actual killings. They are serving life sentences. He also said that 80 people are facing the death penalty across the U.S. who didn't murder anyone. In many cases, he contends, those convicted of felony murder end up with more severe punishments than the people who did commit the murder.

Last June, an appeal of a man's life sentence was heard by the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The man had been convicted in 1990 on second-degree murder charges. He conspired with three others to rob the two victims after tying them up. The victims died of dehydration and starvation before they were found. Two of the other people involved received life sentences. One other person got a lesser sentence after he cooperated with police.

The cost of a life sentence or 30 years in prison to taxpayers is $1.5 million, says Leach. He believes more lenient sentences are needed when a defendant did not actually commit murder.

Life in prison is not a sentence anyone wants to have handed down in his or her case. This is why it is so important to develop a strong defense strategy when facing serious charges.

Source: Lancaster Online, "State senator wants to eliminate felony murder rule in Pennsylvania," Alejandro Rios, Feb. 11, 2016

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