The Crime Scene - To Serve and Inform

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Why second-degree murder in Va. case?

After reading Tom Jackman's story about how David A. Patton was charged with second-degree murder after allegedly breaking into Stephen A. Carr's house, binding Carr and his girlfriend and, when Carr struggled, fatally shooting him, several readers asked why Patton had only been charged with second-degree murder.

Here's Tom's response:

On the issue of second-degree murder: Fairfax prosecutors and magistrates routinely issue this charge when it is being done quickly. They can upgrade it to first-degree murder at the grand jury stage, when they know more.
This shooting happened late on a Sunday night, and by the time the police were ready to get a warrant it was probably past midnight. At that point, they may not have had all the background to file murder one, so why bother.
The longtime prosecutor, Robert Horan, always said that a murder charge in Virginia is automatically considered second-degree unless otherwise specified. The jury will decide.

By Washington Post Editors  |  September 14, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Homicide , Reader Questions , Updates , Virginia  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Prison after man's 8th alcohol arrest
Next: Diesel fuel stolen in Anne Arundel


Home invasion? Kidnapping? Deadly weapon? A second degree charge is a joke. He committed a murder while in the process of committing another felony, so this cannot be anything but first degree.

Posted by: ennepe68 | September 14, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

You didn't bother to actually read the post, did you?

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | September 16, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company