How 4 teens became murderers without killing anyone

ELKHART – — April Sparks was waiting in line to pre-pay for gas at a 7-Eleven store when she overheard a conversation she didn’t want to hear.

“They don’t deserve that,” the cashier said.

“They should spend their lives in prison,” the customer in front of her said.

Sparks knew exactly whom they were talking about. The small community 160 miles north of Indianapolis seemed split on the fates of four teenagers catapulted into unwanted fame because of one stupid mistake. One of them was her son.

Sparks left, quietly, and went elsewhere to buy gas.

Her son’s life changed forever on the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2012, when he and four friends broke into a house, hoping to steal some money.

They thought the house was empty. None of the teens expected an armed homeowner to be inside. None of them was armed. None foresaw a shooting. But the homeowner, who was sleeping upstairs, did rush downstairs and did fire a handgun — killing one of the teens.

via How 4 teens became murderers without killing anyone.

How is this case in any way controversial?

The five perps conspired to commit a felony. They undertook what they knew to be risky behavior (else why would they have passed on the first two potential targets), and knew it was risky enough that they took steps to avoid police, by posting a lookout.

Has the felony murder rule been unjustly used elsewhere? Likely. But not here.

9 thoughts on “How 4 teens became murderers without killing anyone”

  1. “four teenagers catapulted into unwanted fame because of one stupid mistake”

    It wasn’t a mistake. They very deliberately planned to rob that homeowner. Nor did the homeowner make a mistake in shooting them – he feared for his life.

    Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, punks!

  2. They stopped being “teens” as soon as they did this:

    “They discussed ways to get some quick cash to buy weed. Breaking into a home seemed like a good idea. So they began looking for an empty house.”

    Of course, the way this all could have been prevented was by legalizing marijuana and confiscating all guns.

  3. One part of me thinks the punishment seems a bit harsh. Another part points out that, if they hadn’t committed a crime, there would be no punishment.

    I agree with the quote cited above, and would like to add words of wisdom from our current president: “Don’t do stupid shit.”

  4. I have no trouble with this as long as the defendants are adults. There is a problem, however, of trying juveniles as adults, and that appears to possibly be a problem here. To many prosecutors are simply trying to make a name for themselves, and they, all too often, are just as much scum as the criminals they prosecute. The need to prosecute juvies as adults is often more a political matter, than a criminal justice matter.

    I still have trouble with patting kids on the back and saying” there, there” and letting them off. The statement of don’t do the crime, etc. still applies.

  5. Felony murder seems a bit harsh, but then again we know nothing esle from the story, like previous convictions, etc.

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the “news” almost never tells the whole story, even in print journalism where there is no excuse for NOT telling the “whole” story. ( I say this as a former print reporter on a crime beat).
    The fact is, that if you break into an occupied home, someone might just get killed. That could be the occupant or the intruder. If sending these kids up the river for 20 years helps convince the next asshole that home-breaking is more risky than it’s worth, that’s a good thing.

    If it’s some otherwise good kids who did something serious but otherwise uncharacteristic, then 20 years seems harsh indeed, but ten seems just fine.

    I was juvenile delinquent myself. And while I did lot’s of things I’m now ashamed of and regret, breaking into a stranger’s home was never on my list of things to do. ‘Cause that’s a good way to get your ass shot off. If *I* could figure that out at 14 in the 70s, I have little sympathy for kids that do it today. It ain’t rocket science.

    1. So, tell me then, why exactly is felony murder a bit harsh?

      If your actions in committing a felony are a contributing factor in the death of a human, which would not otherwise have happened in that way and at that time, why exactly should they be let off easy?

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