20 November 2012

Metro murder: first or second degree?

Chavez Tyrek Myers is a 17-year-old from District Heights charged as an adult with second-degree murder while armed:
Court documents allege that he snuck up behind Griffin during a fight at the Metro station and plunged a knife into his chest.
I thought this was maybe a bit questionable--it seems like this could potentially be a first degree murder, not second? Here's the DC statute for first degree murder (emphasis in bold is mine):
§ 22-2401. Murder in the first degree - Purposeful killing; killing while perpetrating certain crimes.
 Whoever, being of sound memory and discretion, kills another purposely, either of deliberate and premeditated malice or by means of poison, or in perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate an offense punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, or without purpose to do so kills another in perpetrating or in attempting to perpetrate any arson, as defined in § 22-401 or § 22-402, first degree sexual abuse, first degree child sexual abuse, first degree cruelty to children, mayhem, robbery, or kidnaping, or in perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate any housebreaking while armed with or using a dangerous weapon, or in perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate a felony involving a controlled substance, is guilty of murder in the first degree. For purposes of imprisonment following revocation of release authorized by § 24-203.1(b)(7), murder in the first degree is a Class A felony.
Now here is the statute for second degree murder:
§ 22-2403. Murder in the second degree.
Whoever with malice aforethought, except as provided in §§ 22-2401, 22-2402, kills another, is guilty of murder in the second degree. For purposes of imprisonment following revocation of release authorized by § 24-203.1(b)(7), murder in the second degree is a Class A felony.
Myers "snuck up behind Griffin" which would tend to show deliberation and premeditation, no? Maybe the issue here is "kills another purposely" (first degree) vs. "kills another" (second degree). It's difficult to understand the distinction here, but it seems that perhaps the prosecutors doubt their ability to prove that Myers actually intended to kill Griffin, rather than just intent to inflict a serious bodily injury that resulted in Griffin's death.
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