An unsealed indictment against two California men revealed multiple charges in relation to a Stockton bank robbery in which a female was killed. The men, ages 20 and 21, were each charged with three counts of murder, robbery, kidnapping, gang crimes and carjacking. In addition to the woman, two additional bank robbery suspects were killed.
Under the law in California, people may be charged with murder when a person dies during the commission of a felony. The case, which involved a shootout between the robbery suspects and police, also carried an additional 35 counts of attempted murder for every police officer involved in the men's pursuit.
Reportedly, the men robbed a Bank of the West branch on July 16, taking two bank employees and one female customer as they fled the scene. While fleeing police, the men allegedly engaged in a shootout with officers. The San Joaquin County District Attorney's office has not yet made a decision regarding whether they will pursue the death penalty in the case. A spokesperson indicated the decision will be made in 2015.
The robbery case demonstrates that an initial theft offense can quickly spiral out of control, leading to many more serious charges. People who are accused of a crime should remember to assert their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney. In this case, if the men had stopped instead of fleeing and engaging officers in a shootout, they may have received fewer charges and potentially greater bargaining power if they were to choose to pursue a plea agreement. An attorney can help advise these men of their rights and provide guidance as to their next steps.
Source: FOX News, "2 men indicted in California bank robbery, shootout that killed hostage, 2 other suspects", December 22, 2014