Edmond, OK - Two teenagers were arrested for the murder of their best friend - not because they pulled the trigger, but because they witnessed the murder, and happened to be involved in a different, less serious 'crime' at the same time, which had nothing to do with the violence that occurred.
The young men, Jessey Gonzalez, and Nicolas Gedela, along with the victim Carlos Santos, were attempting to sell a quarter pound of marijuana to three strangers. The strangers ambushed the young men and shot and killed Santos while his two friends managed to escape.
Now, the police are charging the victim's friends with first-degree murder, thanks to an asinine legal loophole.
Sadly, it is fairly common for people to get charged with committing a murder that authorities know someone else carried out, simply because they happened to be breaking a different law, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is made possible by a legal doctrine called, "felony murder doctrine," which states that:
"A rule of criminal statutes that any death which occurs during the commission of a felony is first-degree murder, and all participants in that felony or attempted felony can be charged with and found guilty of murder. A typical example is a robbery involving more than one criminal, in which one of them shoots, beats to death or runs over a store clerk, killing the clerk. Even if the death were accidental, all of the participants can be found guilty of felony murder, including those who did no harm, had no gun, and/or did not intend to hurt anyone. In a bizarre situation, if one of the holdup men or women is killed, his/her fellow robbers can be charged with murder."
Gonzalez and Gedela were both arrested on charges of murder, unlawful distribution of marijuana, and possession of drug proceed money.
We have reported on a number of similar stories in the past, involving innocent people who were charged with murder because they were committing a different, and far less serious crime nearby.
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In most cases, the felony murder doctrine is applied to nonviolent people who are engaging in victimless crimes and have had nothing to do with the murder or any intent of violence.
One high-profile case was that of Kyler Carriker, who agreed to meet his former classmate at his friend Kyle Belts’ home to introduce his former classmate to a marijuana dealer. However, the former classmate arrived with several other gang members, and later testified in court to the fact that the plan was to rob Carriker, Belts, and Ronald Betts, the marijuana dealer and brother of former Kansas state Senator Donald Betts.
Almost immediately upon entering Belts' home, the gang members began firing. Carriker and Betts were both shot and, unfortunately, Betts died from his injuries.
According to Carriker's family, after leaving the home, the shooter bragged to the other gang members, saying that he had “killed them all.”
After the shooting, instead of seeking actual justice for this killing, Carriker was charged with the murder of Betts because he acted as a middleman in the marijuana sale.
Luckily, however, because of a successful push for justice via the internet and alternative media, Carriker was found not guilty.
Others have not been so lucky.
In another case, twenty-year-old Serghei Pavel Comerzan was also charged with murder after a cop wrecked his own car and died attempting to give him a ticket. In another insane case, the police were shooting at a suspect, killed an innocent woman inside of a bar and charged the suspect with her murder.