Melissa Shuler and I are asking the state of Florida to abolish the felony murder rule. States like Michigan, Kentucky, and Hawaii have found it unconstitutional.
Florida's felony murder rule is unjust. The legislation makes it possible for prosecutors and courts to distribute inequitable punishments, particularly when it comes to juveniles and young adults. Clear examples of abuses of the felony murder doctrine include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:
1) The charging of 12 year old Cristian Fernandez for aggravated child abuse and murder in response to the unintentional death of his younger sibling. State Attorney Angela Corey sought to try Cristian as an adult for the two above charges, exposing him to the mandatory penalty of life without parole if he is convicted. Please see the petition asking the State Attorney to reverse the decision to try Cristian as an adult, exposing him to this rule.
2) Curtis Shuler was 16 when he was charged with murder and burglary. At his trial a significant number of witnesses provided Curtis with an alibi for the night of the shooting. The only evidence against him was the original statements of the other perpetrators charged with the crime. One of the men who accused him of being involved later testified at the trial that Curtis was not present during the car burglary/murder, but the damage was done and the jury convicted him of burglary. The same jury found that Curtis was not guilty of assault or murder; however, the felony murder doctrine allowed the courts to give Curtis the maximum sentence possible: life without any possibility of parole. Please see the petition Melissa Shuler started for Curtis, her husband.
3) Ryan Holle was 20 when charged under the felony murder rule. In 2003, Holle lent his car to his roommates. He was hungover from a prior evening of drinking and partying when the roommates informed him they were going to rob a man of his marijuana. During the robbery the men murdered an 18 year old girl. Though Holle was about a mile and a half from the scene of the crime and had no prior knowledge of a murder, he was convicted under the felony murder rule and sentenced to life without parole. Please read more about Ryan's case here and here.
The felony murder rule has been eliminated in three states because it has been deemed unconstitutional. Florida's application of this law demonstrates a need to eliminate it and seek other methods for ensuring fair and equal justice. This law is especially abused when it comes to minors or young people under the age of 21. This doctrine robs people in Florida of a second chance and holds them just as accountable as those who perpetrate crimes with premeditation and malice.
Please join me and Melissa in our effort to compel Florida to abolish this law by signing the petition and sharing it with others.