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Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney on Felony Murder vs. Complicity in the Ahmaud Arbery Case

Hi there. This is Erica Marilyn. I am founder of perfect legal video and I’m veryexcited. It’s Friday afternoon and we get to talk to attorney Brian Jones. He is outof Ohio and he is an attorney. He owns a criminal defense firm and he is going to beshedding some light for us on the Amman Arbery shooting investigation and giving ussome insight to a felony murder versus complicity and welcome Brian. Thank you somuch for coming in today.

SPEAKER 2
00:35 – 00:37
Thanks for having me on Erica. It’s good to see you again.

SPEAKER 1
00:38 – 01:02
Great to see you. So if you could give us a little bit of a background, I know that this is a case that came out in February and now it is just blowing up over the last few days because of a video they came out of the murder. So if you would, if you wouldn’t mind, just giving us a little bit of a background before we go into some of the definitions.

SPEAKER 2
01:04 – 01:45
Absolutely. Erica, we’ve all been following the tragic case of a modern Arbery, a young African American man who was allegedly murdered by two white men in Georgia. The story really gained traction in the media. After a shocking video clip was released showing the moment mr. Arbery was intentionally and repeatedly shot by Gregory and Travis with Michael. those two individuals have been arrested on May 21st. The man who recorded that video, William Rotty, Brian jr. Was arrested and accused of felony murder and attempted false imprisonment, for his role in that shooting.

SPEAKER 1
01:48 – 02:10
Wow. That is amazing. I mean, most people wouldn’t think that if you don’t pull, if you don’t pull the trigger, you would think that you wouldn’t be in trouble for anything. But, you know, this is a very interesting case. So can you tell us what is felony murder and how could someone who didn’t pull the trigger be charged with a murder

SPEAKER 2
02:12 – 03:44
Felony murder is illegal doctrine in some common law jurisdictions that broadens the crime of murder when an individual kills, regardless of their intent to kill during the commission of a dangerous or statutorily listed crime, the offender can also be charged with murder and convicted of that charge. Now Georgia follows this felony murder doctrine and therefore Roddy, Brian can be charged and convicted of felony murder, whether he intended to help them make Michaels or whether he did it inadvertently unintentionally or by mistake. Now, if you think that that sounds like an unfair and potentially problematic situation in terms of how prosecutors can choose who to charge and who to prosecute, you’d be absolutely right. Erica, even worse. It eliminates the need for a shared and mutual mens REA or mental state among the various players and participants in a crime. What that means is that even though mr. Brian May have had no intention to cause I mowed Arbery any physical harm whatsoever. The fact that the Michaels ultimately killed him. And if they are convicted of murder and he is convicted or found to be responsible or played a part in the false imprisonment of mr. Arbery, he can also be charged with and convicted of murder.

SPEAKER 1
03:46 – 04:36
Oh my gosh. That is crazy. I mean, it, it was a, it was probably an unexpected day for all parties involved. I mean, already, we was just out for a run and exercising. these people are chasing him down and somebody happens to drive by in his path and then start videotaping the whole thing. I mean, who wakes up and thinks that that’s your day. and now they’re all going to be, you know, they’re, they’re all going to be charged and, and have been charged. I mean, you, you tell me what the official, the official way to say that is, but, it’s definitely interesting. you know, it, can you tell us a little bit more about how Ohio would handle this Is it the same thing as shorter

SPEAKER 2
04:38 – 05:51
Absolutely. Erica, all of these individuals have been charged. more precisely they’ve been indicted for these crimes. Now, Ohio is different in this sense, Ohio is very progressive on this particular area of criminal justice and criminal justice reform. In the sense that Ohio has largely gotten rid of felony murder. So in Ohio, an individual must either be charged as a complicit to murder, or they can be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the killing that occurs during the course of the commission of a felony. Now complicity means that an individual had an intentional mental state to commit the crime of murder by either soliciting or procuring somebody to commit the crime, assisting or aiding and abetting somebody to commit the murder, conspiring with somebody to commit the murder or causing an innocent and irresponsible person to commit the murder on their behalf. So they have to have the goal, the intent that their victim out ultimately dies.

SPEAKER 2
05:52 – 07:24
That is the complicity to murder standard in Ohio, in a situation similar to the Roddy Bryan Case, if that were here in Ohio, he would likely be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Now, involuntary manslaughter is the causing of a death of another person or the unlawful termination of a person’s pregnancy as the result of committing or attempting to commit a felony. So the situation arises where, mr. Bryan is accused of, engaging in a false imprisonment crime in complicity with the McMichael. Now, the Michael’s took the additional step of allegedly intentionally killing mr. Arbery. but mr. Bryan would be guilty in Ohio. If these facts were proven true of involuntary manslaughter, Ohio’s first degree murder statute requires the killing that occurs during the course of a felony must be in an intentional killing in order to qualify for a first degree murder instead of the felony murder rule in other jurisdictions, which only requires the intent to commit the underlying felony, that common hypothetical or anecdotal situation that we use in this situation is the robbery of the liquor store, where there’s a getaway driver.

SPEAKER 2
07:25 – 08:23
Now the robber and the getaway driver could have had a conversation before they went to the liquor store and that conversation could have gone something like this, all right, robber, you’ve got a gun, but it’s unloaded, or even it’s a fake gun. You know, the getaway driver thinks that it’s a fake gun and you’re going to go in the store and you’re going to point the gun in the clerk space. And you’re going to say, give me the money. And if the clerk gives you any resistance, you’re going to come out and we’re going to drive away. And in the, in the getaway, driver’s mind, that’s the crime they’re going to commit. But in reality, the robber goes in, he’s got a real gun. He shoots and kills the clerk in Georgia. The getaway driver is responsible for murder in Ohio. That getaway driver is responsible for involuntary manslaughter. And of course the robbery itself,

SPEAKER 1
08:24 – 09:24
That that is a really great explanation. And, you know, it just goes to show that like, even if you are committing a crime or planning on committing a crime, sometimes, you know, things go in a different direction and it, you know, no crimes are worth committing. I don’t, I don’t think, but I mean, it just goes to show how serious it can get, but it’s good to know that Ohio actually takes that progressive look and, you know, has some different standards so that when it’s more serious, it’s the most serious people can get charged with a first degree murder that if they intended to do it and they did it. And, you know, but if there’s, there’s some gray area, it sounds like they’ve got some different ways of looking at it. So what would the difference be in the punishment between those crimes

SPEAKER 2
09:25 – 09:42
So in Ohio murder carries the potential for a life sentence or even a death sentence. Whereas involuntary manslaughter is punished as a felony of the first degree hearing a penalty of up to 11 years. I see.

SPEAKER 1
09:42 – 10:08
So that is a really big difference. And so when you’re looking at a case like this, I mean, what are, what are some of the gotchas, I guess, in this particular case to where you can, you can say, you know what, this, this wasn’t done right by the police or this person is, you know, really in this other category because of these certain circumstances

SPEAKER 2
10:10 – 11:22
In these sorts of circumstances, what we have to investigate is the intent of ourclient and the plan going into the crime itself. These are not individuals who aregoing to, get off Scott free, you know, in, in the case of my robbery hypothetical,you know, the, the getaway driver is still guilty of, of robbery, a first degreefelony and, and possibly even robbery with a gun specification, which would exposethat individual to, up to 14 years in prison. but we really want to investigate ourclients, history, their, taste or palette for violence, the degree of therelationship between, you know, in the hypothetical situation that getaway driver andthe Robert himself, any sort of power dynamics that there are in there. There’s a,there’s a wide array of potential, potential investigative areas that we need toemploy as defense attorneys in order to ensure that justice is

SPEAKER 1
11:24 – 12:46
Well, that’s good to know. And I know like with any of the cases that you help people with, I mean, you really have an in depth checklist of things to go over and you’re in court all the time handling criminal cases. So you’ve seen all of the different scenarios. And in fact, for anyone that has watched any of your weekly interviews, they would know that you go the extra mile and, you know, being on the cutting edge, doing the research, making sure that, you know, all of the different ways that, you know, these cases can go wrong for your client. And they’re really fighting for the justice that they deserve. And so I would encourage anyone that has a case of a criminal nature to give the office of Brian Jones, a call, because they can at least give you an overview of what’s happening with your case and some options. And they do a very thorough and a very, a very educated and great job at, at, defending you. So you couldn’t have a better law firm in your corner. so Brian, I just wanted to say, like, I know that we kind of went over everything here and, I just want to know, did we miss anything Is there anything else that you thought of during this interview that you’d like to say

SPEAKER 2
12:48 – 13:58
I think there’s a couple of things, that, that I would like to add to this discussion here. We talked about the differences between Ohio and Georgia, you know, felony murder versus complicity. And I think our viewers would be interested to know why that’s the case, why, why doesn’t Ohio have felony murder. And the reality is that felony murder is one of being most frequently abused, charges and most frequently abused in the sense that it’s applied in a very racially, disparate manner. you have to put a very fine point on it. Minority individuals are charged with felony murder substantially more often than whites. so that’s the, that’s kind of the reason for that criminal justice change. And it’s a change that has been recommended broadly across all aspects of the legal system from the American bar association to, the national association of criminal defense lawyers, to a variety of other local and state agencies that deal in criminal justice initiatives.

SPEAKER 2
13:59 – 15:30
Second, I want to, I’d like to keep our audience informed about the power dynamics that happen in a case like this, the prosecution has now gained substantial leverage against the MC Michaels, which they can put pressure on mr. Bryan and cooperate and turn state’s evidence against, the MC Michaels from the defense standpoint, it’s critical for mr. Bryan’s counsel to conduct their own investigation, collect witness statements, and be very prepared and ready to address the tidal wave of public opinion that is currently crashing down and will continue to crash down upon mr. Bryan and his defense team, this case calls for experienced and mindful representation. as the elements of race and class will be key to managing the jury trial itself, the expectations of the jurors, the plea agreement and the dynamics and potential sentence range that can result from that if this case resolves that way, and particularly the pretrial publicity and how that’s going to play into jury selection, should this case go to jury, you know, prior exposure, bias and prejudice, you know, right now everybody’s got an opinion on this case and those opinions aren’t going to go away.

SPEAKER 2
15:30 – 15:44
When those individuals sit in the jury box, having skilled trial lawyer representation is exactly what mr. Brian needs to make sure that he doesn’t end up on death row.

SPEAKER 1
15:47 – 16:34
Well, it sounds like having the right attorney could be a matter of life and death in this situation. So, you know, we really appreciate your analysis on this. it gives us a lot to think about, and, you know, I’m really happy that it seems like Ohio has, you know, really been looking at the law and making some changes to make sure that things are more fair. and some of the cases we’ve been talking about lately, and so, you know, I think that’s fantastic. And, you know, it’s great that, you know, you really take the initiative to go learn about these things, to the best degree that you can help your clients. And so, you know, we appreciate you coming on here. I want to thank everybody for watching and thank you so much, Brian, for coming on again.

SPEAKER 2
16:35 – 16:37
You’re welcome, Erica. Thank you for having me.

SPEAKER 1
16:38 – 16:39
All right. Thank you. Bye bye now.