Many people think of murder as a fairly straightforward crime. You may think that, regardless of the particulars, you can face a murder charge if your actions result in someone else’s death. Regardless of how you conceive murder as a criminal offense, you would likely be surprised to hear about a man facing murder charges despite someone else firing the shot caused a death. This is the exact situation of Trader Joe’s shooting suspect Gene Evin Atkins. While a police officer discharged the bullet that struck Trader Joe’s employee Melyda Corado, prosecutors are trying to hold Atkins responsible through a legal principle known as the “provocative act doctrine.”
If you’re facing murder charges in the Los Angeles area, you need the strong legal counsel of an experienced murder defense attorney. The law surrounding homicide crimes is extremely complicated. At Spolin Law P.C., we know how to recognize the minute details that govern these offenses, and develop a defense based off that information.
Atkins is Accused of Initiating Chain of Events that Led to Murder in Trader Joe’s Shooting
The basis of the case against Atkins is that his actions led to Corado’s death, even though Atkins himself didn’t pull the trigger. That chain of events begins with Atkins stealing his grandmother’s car. He then kidnapped a 17-year-old female, and fled in the vehicle. Police say he fired shots out the back window at officers who were pursuing him.
Atkins’ flight eventually led him to crash the car outside Trader Joe’s. After the crash, Atkins attempted to flee into the store. As he ran, he continued to shoot at the police, who returned fire. It was during this shootout that a police-fired bullet struck and killed Corado, who was exiting the store as Atkins was entering.
Understanding the Provocative Act Doctrine
Atkins’ murder charge stems from a principle of California law known as the “provocative act doctrine.” The main concept of this doctrine states that if your actions provoke another person to commit a killing, you may be liable for murder.
In Atkins’ case, the prosecution is trying to show that he intentionally set into motion a series of actions, and the outcome of those actions was Corado’s death. The fact that he was not trying to bring about Corado’s death does not matter. Because he kidnapped someone and shot at police as he fled, he allegedly acted with conscious disregard for human life. In firing the shot that killed Corado, the police were simply responding to the circumstances, placing the responsibility for the murder on Atkins.
The California Supreme Court has clarified the scope of the provocative act doctrine, stating that its application must be based on intent. While you don’t have to commit the deadly act yourself, you must have the intent of acting in such a way that endangers others.
Contact a Murder Defense Attorney at Our Firm for Help Today
Whichever section of the law your murder charge is brought under, the most important aspect of your defense is reliable legal representation. Spolin Law P.C. should be your first call for assistance with murder charges in Los Angeles. Our attorneys are dedicated to fighting aggressively for you in court, and they will do so by utilizing a number of possible defenses, their years of experience, and their knowledge of the complicated laws that govern these cases.