Felony Murder Controversy
Florida Statutes required the jury to convict Tate of first-degree murder even if the jury did not believe that the he intended to kill or injure anyone—all that was required was that Tate knowingly abused another child who died as a result (wherein any intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical injury to a child is child abuse per Florida statutes).
The rule for such convictions is known as the felony murder rule. The sufficient conditions of the felony murder rule were listed by the judge Joel T. Lazarus during sentencing.
Thus Tate was sentenced to life in prison without the prosecution having to prove that he intended to kill or injure, or realized that his acts are likely to kill or injure, or even that a typical child of his age would or should realize this.
Critics, such as the various groups listed as AMICI CURIAE in Tate's appeal, assert that convicting preteen children of 1st-degree murder without having to prove these children intended any harm, not to mention serious injury or death, is unacceptable.
Read more about this topic: Lionel Tate
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