The Law School Authority

People v. Stamp Case Brief

Summary of People v. Stamp, Court of Appeal, Second District, 1969

Facts: Defendant entered with a gun and blackjack in the victim’s office and ordered everyone to lay on the ground for 5 minutes.  Defendant and an accomplice collected the money and left. The victim who suffered from an advanced heart disease, suffered a heart attack and died.  Three doctors testified at trial that the heart attack was precipitated by the fear produced by the robbery.

Issue: Do these facts fit the felony murder rule?

Holding: Yes

Felony murder rule:  “…a killing committed in either the perpetration of or an attempt to perpetrate robbery is murder of the first degree.” The killing does not have to be willful, premeditated, or deliberate.  The death does not have to be foreseeable.

Rationale: The felon is strictly liable for all the killings committed by him or his accomplices in the course of a felony. As long as the homicide is the direct causal result of the robbery, the felony murder rule applies.  In the current case, the robber’s ignorance of victim’s heart problems does not relieve of felony murder.

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