Georgia Shooting Update

When last we spoke about the Georgia shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, I said I didn't think the two men involved would end up being convicted of anything at trial, given that the local DA put out a statement explaining their theory that no crime was committed. Now I think there won't be a trial -- because the state and Federal government are moving to put extraordinary pressures that look likely to draw a plea bargain.

Not just the father and son but the third man, who was filming the incident, have been arrested and charged with felony murder. Felony murder in Georgia means that you were committing a felony -- any felony will do -- and someone got killed as a result of it. This means you don't really have to prove intent to murder someone, which is important in this case because the facts appear to show that the gun went off during a struggle. You might get an involuntary manslaughter charge out of that. Mr. Hines seemed to think so, and 'type b' does allow an otherwise lawful act to be a crime, so even if the DA was right that no crime was committed, you could perhaps persuade a jury. It would be hard to get even a second degree murder charge. But Felony Murder might fly, assuming you can prove a felony, because you don't have to prove the killing was an intentional murder.

However, the trick to Felony Murder is that it is a capital charge. In Georgia, prosecutors who bring a capital charge get to ask for a "Death Qualified" jury. This is a jury that is self-selected for the willingness to ask for the death penalty if the charge is proven. Death Qualified juries return not just harsher sentencing recommendations compared to other juries, they also convict more often on any charges.

Now the penalty for type-b Involuntary Manslaughter is a misdemeanor penalty, i.e., up to a year in jail. Felony Murder's penalty is death, for both father and son and the guy who ran down the street with his phone out. Clearly the intention is to use the threat of death for you and your son to squeeze out a plea bargain to some other sort of murder charge from the father, which then doesn't have to be proven in court because he'd have admitted to it.

They've still got good odds, though, because the DA's office cleared them after investigation -- right? Well, it turns out, the FBI has decided to investigate the officials who didn't arrest them. Prosecutors would have a field day in court with the claims that the DA's office was such a hotbed of racism that it was being investigated for Federal hate crimes. Such charges aren't likely to be successfully brought against government officials acting in their official capacity, especially since they didn't take any actions. They can be entertained long enough to get to the plea bargain, though, as a threat to the accused.

Ultimately our justice system is badly broken and extremely warped. I don't know what justice actually looks like in this case, but I know it doesn't look like sentencing both a man and his son to death. Even leveling threats like that is indefensible.

Justice also doesn't look like the kind of railroad they're setting up to avoid having to prove a case in court.

1 comment:

ymarsakar said...

Justice only comes from the Divine. It has never come from humans. Ever