Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America at the Denver Press Club. Our speaker was retired Judge Steve Phillips who filled us in on the view from the bench. We learned that there are five acts that can be considered first degree murder:
· Intentionally causing death
· Killing with universal malice, e.g., throwing a bomb into a crowd
· Causing the death of a child by one in a position of trust
· Causing the execution of another by perjured testimony (never been prosecuted in Colorado)
· Causing the death of another in the course of a felony
Second degree murder is killing another person knowingly or willfully such as a bar fight where the accused is the aggressor.
Manslaughter is killing someone by reckless disregard.
Negligent homicide is causing death by failing to perceive a substantial or unjustifiable risk such as a car accident by speeding.
Penalties in Colorado are as follows:
· First degree murder – life in prison or death
· Second degree murder – 16 to 48 years
· Manslaughter – 2 to 6 years, or 4 to 12 years if a deadly weapon is used
· Negligent homicide – 1 to 3 years.