The state of Arizona has a statutory law known as the felony murder rule. The felony murder rule holds that a murder that occurs during the course of or in the immediate flight from, the commission of specific crimes is considered murder in the first degree. Unfortunately for three valley men, when one member of their group was shot and killed in an attempt to steal drugs and money, they found themselves charged under this rule, and now face the crime of first-degree murder.
Glendale Police reported that Josh Rasmussen, 19, Justin Whitley, 19, Justin Drennan, 21, and an unnamed 17-year-old, made plans to meet with a 17-year-old drug dealer to purchase drugs. When the group met, the 17-year-old pulled out what appeared to be a hand gun – police report the weapon turned out to be a BB gun- and pointed it at the drug dealer in attempt to steal not only the drugs, but money as well. Tragically for this young man, the drug dealer pulled out his own handgun and shot the alleged robber in self-defense.
The critically injured juvenile was taken to a local hospital, and then lifted to a trauma center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The alleged drug dealer was released to his parents after medical treatment for minor injuries, and is now facing second-degree murder and drug related charges.
Rasmussen, Whitley and Drennan, are now facing first-degree murder charges, due to the felony murder rule, although these suspects were not the ones who pulled the trigger of the gun that ended the juvenile’s life.
If you have been charged with homicide, it is very important to hire a seasoned, knowledgeable, professional Phoenix homicide attorney, who can work hard to reduce your sentence and protect your rights.