Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Retired Marine Thwarts Robbery; Felony Murder is a Harsh Mistress

Old news story (2007) with a legal twist to it.

So this 71-year-old former Marine named James Lovell is at a Subway restaurant in Florida when a significant emotional event transpires:
While John Lovell was finishing up his sandwich around 11:15 p.m. last
Wednesday, two masked men armed with guns barged into the restaurant, according
to a statement from the Plantation police. After taking money from the register,
the two men turned to Lovell and demanded his wallet, police said.

As the two tried to force Lovell into the ladies’ room where he thought
he would be killed, the former Marine reached behind his back to grab his
.45-caliber handgun, which he fired seven times at the two men, according to the
police statement.

Donicio Arrendell, 22, of North Lauderdale, was fatally shot in the head
and chest. Frederick Gadson, 21, of Fort Lauderdale, ran from the store after he
was shot in the chest, according to the police statement. A police canine unit
found him hiding next to a nearby bank. He was sent to Broward General Hospital
and was listed in stable condition.
The only reason I can think of to take a stickup customer to the bathroom is an execution. The authorities did not charge Lovell with any crime. In fact, the law swings the other direction here:
Gadson was charged with felony murder and armed robbery. According to Florida
law, a person charged with a felony, such as armed robbery, resulting in death
can also be charged with murder.
This is the Felony Murder Rule. Under this merger theory, the getaway driver is culpable for the dead clerk as if he were the trigger man who dropped the hammer. Florida is one of several states that extends liability for the death of one your co-conspirators. So trigger man #1 is liable for the self-defense shooting of trigger man #2.

Result: Gadson gets 12 years. Will be released in 2019.

Pretty good shooting, too. The would-be victim gets the drop on two men who have him at gunpoint and hits both center-mass and one of them in the head.

Predictably, not everyone was happy with the outcome. The mother of the deceased criminal said that Lovell shouldn't have pulled the trigger.

I'm not sure what kind of course of action she is prescribing besides "die." Lovell had already given them his wallet. She asks that he give up his life.


  1. I read this a few weeks ago in a magazine and they reported that she said "They were good boys, just getting their lives turned around". I simply shake my head. I cannot (CANNOT) get my head around people who think it is ok to victimize someone and want to vilify the person who protected themselves. Lovell was *most likely* about to die and now has to live with what he was *forced* to do. He didn't ask for it. He didn't make it happen. He protected himself and I cheer him on for his courage and hope that he can put this behind him.

  2. This old marine didn't make it to 71 on accident.