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When Is a Death Considered ‘Murder?’

Two recent cases have emphasized the breadth of the legal definition. Patch wants to know what the word means to you.

“Murder” and “homicide” are loaded words that conjure images of malice and deliberate violence.

This month, though, the west metro has been reminded that that’s not always the case.

At the beginning of February, prosecutors charged Jonathan Markle with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the drowning of his 9-month-old daughter. Prosecutors say Markle's blood alcohol level was .13 when his vehicle broke through the ice Jan. 18 after he tried to drive underneath the Halstead Bay Bridge on Lake Minnetonka.

Hennepin County Mike Freeman acknowledged that the legal system has "no penalty that can approach the grief and agony this man might feel by the death of his daughter at his own hand." But Freeman went on to say he wants this case to illustrate that "this conduct is simply not acceptable."

Then on Thursday, prosecutors charged 31-year-old Devon McFerrin with third-degree murder stemming from the heroin overdose of a Hopkins man. Investigators say McFerrin sold the man the heroin that killed him.

The law has specific requirements for what constitutes murder and homicide—but these don’t always match common usage.

Patch wants to know what you think of when you hear those words. When does a death cross the line from accidental to homicide or murder? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Aune February 20, 2013 at 02:04 AM
@Rachel Powell It is not obvious from my statement that I believe Bush is blameless. You are making that assumption because I mention Obama. I believe that if an anti-Christ exists his name is George W Bush. I'm not a Christian though so I merely believe him to be an evil evil man. But really they are two sides of the same corrupt coin. The government merely shows us the face it believes we want to see. Don't be fooled. Please become post-partisan and recognize that both parties represent the same interests and those interests are not yours.
Rachel Powell February 20, 2013 at 01:16 PM
@ Shawn - Sorry - knee-jerk reaction when people mention "Obama's war" without mentioning Bush. It sounds to me like we're on the same page. Of course both parties are two sides of the same coin. And their best interests are not in the public in general. I am disillusioned by the whole government because they're so deep in Big Business' pockets there's no way out. I just wanted to make sure the blame started where it really began. You seem a thoughtful soul.
James Warden February 20, 2013 at 07:49 PM
For those who are interested, the murder victim's sister has a great piece here about her brother's struggles and why his life was worthwhile: http://hopkins.patch.com/articles/a-sister-s-perspective It's beautifully written and very touching.
Shawn Aune February 21, 2013 at 02:39 PM
@Rachel Powell No apology necessary. Speaking of blame... http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/02/newly-released-memos-of-donald-rumsfeld-prove-knowing-iraq-war.html
Rachel Powell February 22, 2013 at 01:47 AM
not quite sure how they all got away without being charged with war crimes

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