We've just begun our representation of Nathan Dargis charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the recent homicide in Arlington Heights. 19 year old Nathan, employed full time and with no criminal record, is being held in the Hamilton County Justice Center. There is no allegation Nate was directly involved in the young man's death, but rather he was present at the time. A 17 year old juvenile has been charged with Aggravated Murder and Aggravated Robbery. This case illustrates how the Felony Murder Rule works in Ohio.
Many believe a person must purposely kill another before they can be charged with murder, but this is not correct. If someone is killed during the commission of certain specified crimes, including aggravated robbery, Ohio law considers the death a murder, called Felony Murder.
Many times when defending these cases, the best defense is in the lack of the predicate felony. For example in this case, to prove felony murder, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt an aggravated robbery was attempted or committed. If the evidence establishes this was not a robbery, the physical confrontation resulting in the death was not the result of attempting or committing a theft offense, then the proper verdict is not guilty on the aggravated robbery and not guilty on the murder.
This does not end the case. Ohio has less serious offenses of involuntary manslaughter, which is causing the death of another during the commission of a felony, and voluntary manslaughter, causing the death of another during the commission of a misdemeanor. If the prosecution fails to prove an aggravated robbery, but proves a felony or misdemeanor was committed, the jury could return a guilty verdict on either of these lesser-included offenses.
Murder cases are frequently factually and legally complex. Knowing the facts and correctly applying the law is critical to a successful result.