Friday, January 26, 2007

Battling road rage.

On November 8, 2005, a man named Jason Reynolds was involved in a high-speed auto accident that left two people -- in two separate vehicles -- dead on the highway and Reynolds arrested for causing the crash because of aggressive driving. Of course he claims one of the other drivers, Kelvin Norman, caused the crash, and even told the tow truck driver that Norman "got what he deserved."

Yesterday a jury found Reynolds, who has a documented history of aggressive driving, guilty of murder. And the key was that he was guilty of First-degree Murder, which means life without chance of parole.

This is the first time a Colorado jury has come back with a first-degree murder verdict in a road rage case. Needless to say, prosecutors across the country are paying close attention, because they rarely go for the first-degree charge, opting instead for manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges.

First of all, I am overjoyed that this scumbag is gone for life. He'll never be in a position to endanger someone's life on the road again, and that's a wonderful thing.

But here's my question: Was this first-degree murder?

Try, if you can, to remove yourself from what you believe the punishment should be, because I think most of us would agree that he got the punishment he deserved.

My understanding, however, is that to be considered murder in the first degree, there has to be premeditation. In other words, you have to go out with the express intent of killing someone.

While Reynolds may have been in a position where he should have known that his actions could have resulted in killing someone, I don't know that he intended to kill. Isn't this third-degree murder -- involuntary manslaughter?

Again, I think the guy deserved the sentence he got, and I know he wouldn't have gotten that sentence if he'd been charged with involuntary manslaughter. And not having heard the trial, the prosecution obviously made the case for there being premeditation. But man, it just seems like a bit of a slippery slope to me.

Thoughts? I'm particularly interested in hearing from Archer, Law Wench and Stan (PJ, could you email Stan and see if he'd be willing to weigh in on this one?).


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