When an armed robber shoots and kills an innocent victim, it's easy to understand that the robber's accomplice should also face murder charges. But what if the innocent victim is the one who fires the fatal shot?
Gregory Muse was just convicted of first-degree murder for the death of Correy Ransom, his partner in crime. Ransom was shot and killed by the East St. Louis pawn shop owner they were robbing.
The criminal courts in most states wouldn't have held Muse responsible, but why ever not?
After all, Muse knew that robbing a person at gunpoint could easily result in someone being shot and killed. The fact that it was a robber who died rather than the person being robbed is beside the point. That's not just us saying that. The state Supreme Court concluded that in 1998 in a similar case, People v. Dekens.
Criminals unfortunately don't generally think beyond the moment, but this verdict might give them pause. It's one thing to risk doing prison time for robbery, but quite another when the charge could be murder with a sentence of 20 to 60 years or natural life in prison.
Muse is to be sentenced on April 17. Here's a chance for St. Clair County Circuit Judge Mike Cook to send a strong message and maybe deter similar crimes.