Larry Whitfield, a 20 year old man from Raleigh with no previous criminal convictions, is being charged with first degree murder after he caused a 79 year old woman to die. Whitfield had tried to rob a bank and failed, then went to hide in a home close by. Sadly even after warning the woman that he wouldn’t cause her harm, she died of heart attack.
Under a legal concept known as the felony murder rule, it’s not uncommon for prosecutors to bring a murder charge against a defendant who doesn’t intentionally harm a victim. The rule exists in some form in every state and lets authorities bring murder charges when someone dies during a crime such as burglary, rape, or kidnapping.
“If you’re committing any of those offenses and a person dies, that’s first-degree murder,” said Locke Bell, Gaston County’s district attorney and the prosecutor in Whitfield’s case.