A: Attention Getter
We all have children or intend to have children someday. Picture the sequence of your son in his early 20s joins bad company, breaks into someone’s house, sees one his best friends being shot just next to him as he fled and to add insult to injuries, your child who barely survives such an experience is charged with felony to murder. How many children have not fancied breaking into a shop in their childhood? How many of us have not done something stupid as children or young adults? Yet this was the case of four young unarmed American men who erred by breaking into a house they thought was unoccupied and survived a shooting that killed one of them who were tried for felony to murder.
B: The Need
Unfortunately, the laws of one of the 50 states of this great country permit people in such a situation to be charged on levels equivalent to a murder charge in the 21st Century. [Dissonance] Sadly, we are in a country where there is a lot of injustice and the legal system is so varied and there is a clear lack of consistency in our body of laws. However, one thing that is consistent is that the drafters of our laws – be it at the federal level or at the state level do not know everything. That is why the Founding Fathers of this country, placed trust in an Omnipotent God at the foundation of our legal system. Their hope was to ensure that as the generations came after them, God will guide them to make the right choices and change the laws that must be changed and maintain the laws that guaranteed the spirit of our constitution. In all jurisdictions in the United States and other countries with an English legal tradition, “felony to murder” is an intent to commit an underlying crime that satisfies the intent requirement for murder. And in law, any constructive provision that requires intent also requires further evidence before criminal sentencing could occur. [Sad Story] In the case of the Elkhart 4, all court proceedings show that the four men entered the house (1) unarmed and (2) with the belief that the occupants were not in the house at their time of entry. However, this culminated in a disproportionate charge – felony to murder which led to prison sentences of over 50 years for each member except one who pleaded guilty and was jailed for 45 years. [Fear Appeal] How long will such an unjust and unfair law continue to keep people’s children behind bars permanently? And how fair is it for four young children to get their lives cut off because of a law that does not seem to be consistent with the principles of natural justice?
Something must be done, the sentences of these young men should be reduced and this law on “felony to murder” must be reviewed. [Solution] The case of these four young men is being presented to the Indiana State Supreme Court and there, every American with a conscience must ask for some degree of leniency. [Positive Appeal/ Physical Needs] Judging by what these young men have gone through, even if they are released on probation, it is logical to believe that they will turn their lives around for the better. [Reasoning Appeal] There is the need for some more safeguards to be put in place to ensure that this law on “felony to murder” is applied in extremely relevant situations where there can be no other conclusion by the law. And if possible, the law on “felony to murder” in Indiana can be scraped totally.
D. Negative Visualization
There is evidence that the boundaries of justice have been overstepped in this case. Young men who could have gone through college to serve our country are being kept in prison for an act that elicited disproportionate response by the victim and by the courts. However, this law cannot continue to be applied in vacuum to cause people to be disproportionately punished. The law and justice must work to enhance society, not to destroy it. [Fear Appeal] It has been successfully invoked against “some” four young men, tomorrow, it could be exaggerated to jail someone close to me or you. So we need to free these young men and get this law to be applied in a more reasonable and proportionate manner.
Gardner, Thomas and Terry Anderson. Criminal Law. Mason, OH: Cengage, 2014. Print.
Miller, Michael. Constitutional Law. Santa Barbera: ABC-CLIO, 2014. Print.
Shipley, Stacey and Bruce Arrigo. Introduction to Forensic Psychology: Court, Law Enforcement,. New York: Academic Press, 2015. Print.
The Elkhart Truth. Indiana Supreme Court will consider its own prior ruling, state felony murder law in Elkhart Four case. 26 February 2015. Web. 21 July 2015. <http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/crime-fire-courts/2015/02/26/Indiana-Supreme-Court-will-consider-its-own-prior-ruling-state-felony-murder-law-in-Elkhart-Four-case.html>.
WSBT-TV. UPDATE: Court of Appeals to issue amended sentences to 3 of 'Elkhart 4'. 2 September 2014. Web. 21 July 2015. <http://www.wsbt.com/news/local/appeals-court-sentences-for-3-of-the-elkhart-4-were-inappropriate/28029948>.