[I don't want to hear anything about the title of this post. Deal with it.]
Remember hiccup girl? Even if you don’t, you can guess that she’s a girl who hiccups. She made national news two years ago as the girl who couldn’t stop hiccuping (video at the end of the post). She’s now in the news again, being charged with the murder of Shannon Griffin, a 22 year old male she met a week ago. According to police:
Griffin met [hiccup girl] Mee online just a week before his death, police said. They arranged to meet Saturday night at 511 Seventh St. N.
It was a trap. The three plotted to lure Griffin to the empty home and rob him, police said.
Griffin pulled up about 10 p.m. Mee led him to the back, where police said Newton and Raiford tried to rob him.
Mee kept on walking, but seconds later gunshots rang out. Griffin struggled with the men, police said, and was shot three times in the chest and once in the shoulder with a .38-caliber revolver.
No one reported the gunshots. Police found Griffin when a caller reported a sleeping transient about 11 p.m. Saturday.
Police found the gun and shoes left behind by a suspect.
Griffin had less than $60 on him when he was killed.
I will use the “Hiccup Girl” case to highlight common arguments against broad felony murder provisions (e.g., that it treats too harshly a defendant with little or no bad mens reaconcerning causing another’s death and may not be an effective was to deter underlying felonies). But the case has me now wondering whether and how first-degree murder cases such as this one can and should get resolved via plea bargains.
As a technical matter, the only form of homicide which the “Hiccup Girl” can be charged with is first-degree murder. I do not think an honest prosecutor and/or judge could or should allow Jennifer Mee to plead to a lesser homicide charge. I suppose a prosecutor and/or judge can (and likely will?) allow Mee to plead guilty only to robbery charges and simply not bring any homicide charges. But would this be truly a just outcome? Would such a plea deal, in essence, be a form prosecutorial nullification given that the Florida legislature apparently has decided that the Jennifer Mee’s of the world out br be facing first-degree murder for which the only available punishments are death and life without parole?
What? For someone who is considered an expert on criminal sentencing and who is also teaching future lawyers about criminal law, this is extremely poor statutory reading and reasoning. This assumes many things: