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May 12, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Understanding the classes of murder is no walk in the park — unless of course you’re the Central Park Strangler. For those of us with a clean rap sheet, the confusing statutes that distinguish one murder from another can make listening to the trial segments of Law & Order as confusing as a Tracy Morgan interview. To help clear things up, take a look at this breakdown of the classes of murder in Missouri.
This is an unlawful killing that is both premeditated and willful. It’s also known as lying-in-wait or ambush murder. For example, if your best friend, Jasper, sleeps with your significant other, Liz, and then two weeks later, you wait outside Jasper’s house and kill him, you’ve just committed first-degree murder.Related Articles
This is unlawful killing that results from an attempt to cause serious physical harm to someone or the death of a person that results from any felony action committed by the offender, regardless of whether or not the offender directly killed the person. For example, if Peter and Ronnie rob a bank and anyone at the scene is killed, either man can be charged with second-degree murder, also known as felony murder. Also, if Ronnie and Peter rob a bank and assault the clerk with no intention of killing him, but the clerk later dies, they can be charged with second-degree murder.
Voluntary manslaughter is killing that occurs under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause or the knowing assistance in the commission of self-murder. For example, if George sees his wife sleeping with another man and instinctively throws a nearby hatchet at the man, which subsequently pierces the man’s body and kills him, George can be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
This is when a person recklessly causes the death of another person unintentionally. For example, if Amy is driving while intoxicated and accidentally hits and kills someone, she can be charged with involuntary manslaughter.