felony murder

Felony murder is not your average murder. Juvenile justice advocates call felony murder laws arcane and say they unfairly harm children and young adults. Prosecutors can charge them with felony murder even if they didn't kill anyone or intend to do so. What's required is the intent to commit a felony — like burglary, arson or rape — and that someone dies during the process.

Protesters outside the Franklin County Courthouse react to the sentencing of Masonique Saunders on August 2, 2019.
Olivia Miltner / WOSU

Masonique Saunders has been sentenced to three years in a Department of Youth Services prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery. The charges stem from Saunders' role in an armed robbery that ended with a Columbus Police officer fatally shooting her boyfriend, Julius Ervin Tate, Jr.

Protesters gather at the Franklin County Courthouse on May 9, 2019, to protest charges against teenager Masonique Saunders.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Masonique Saunders has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery in the case of Julius Ervin Tate, Jr., her boyfriend who was fatally shot by Columbus Police in December 2018.

Felony Murder In Ohio

May 3, 2019
Justice Harley (left) and Dkeama Alexis (right) protested for the release of Masonique Saunders outside of the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

A Columbus police officer in December shot and killed a 16-year-old boy during a robbery sting.

The boy’s 16-year-old girlfriend Masonique Saunders, who was with him at the time, was later charged with the murder and aggravated robbery.

She didn’t shoot him, but because police believe she was his accomplice, she was found complicit and therefore qualified for what is known as “felony murder” in Ohio.

Felony murder is controversial. A growing number of states have abolished or restricted its reach. 

Today on All Sides, we catch up on the case of Masonique Saunders and consider the issue of felony murder.