NBC Miami reports that a 31-year old Miami-Dade man was arrested and charged with second degree murder after police say that the accused picked up a male prostitute and drove him back to his home in West Kendall.
It is alleged that the two men got into a heated argument over money. It is at that point, police say, that the accused shot and killed the alleged victim.
Because the charge is second-degree murder and a non-bondable offense, the accused is in custody without a bond.
The charge is second-degree murder and not first-degree murder because a murder that occurs during a heated argument is often said to be without the necessary premeditation required to prove a first-degree murder.
Florida law defines second-degree murder as, "the unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual..."
By that definition, it is murder (an intentional act) to perform an act imminently dangerous to another person without premeditated design to effect that person's death.
Second-degree murder is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison in Florida.
Murder can be a difficult crime for the State to prove. Whereas we have physical evidence that can help experts recreate what may have occurred, a killing that occurs inside of a home where the only two people present are the accused and the alleged victim has no independent witnesses. The alleged victim can't testify, of course, and the accused is not required to testify. The State must piece together the alleged incident through physical evidence (blood spatter, DNA, fingerprints, gunshot residue, etc...) and a statement of the accused, if he or she has made one. As you can see, a confession in a murder case is very damaging to the accused's defense. That is why you should NEVER speak to the police without first consulting with a criminal defense attorney.
Murder is a defensible crime, especially in this situation. If the accused has not made a statement to police, then all we can gather is that somebody was killed inside of that home. The facts and circumstances behind that killing are left to speculation. It is possible that the alleged victim tried to rob or harm the accused. The killing could have been self-defense. However, if the accused told the police that he shot the alleged victim because they argued over money, then that confession has seriously hurt his chances of beating this charge.
In other words - don't talk to police. They are not your friends. They are trying to arrest you. Use that precious right not to incriminate yourself and make sure you consult an attorney if you are under investigation.
Eric Matheny represents clients in Miami-Dade and Broward. Call today to discuss your case.