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The premeditation myth in Louisiana homicides - Busted In Acadiana

The premeditation myth in Louisiana homicides

Sat, Mar 9, 2013

Off The Beat

Seth Fontenot

Recently there has been quite a bit of buzz about “premeditation” in the Seth Fontenot case in and around Acadiana. Fontenot was arrested in early February and charged with First Degree murder and attempted First Degree murder after admitting to shooting at a fleeing vehicle containing 3 15-year-olds he believed had broken into his truck that night and on two previous occasions. Less than two weeks later, a Lafayette Parish Grand Jury indicted Fontenot.

If you’ve watched any type of crime movie or episode, you have likely heard the term, “premeditated murder.” In fact, if you’ve been following any of the comments on social media regarding the Fontenot case lately, you’ve probably been caught in the cross fire of those who think Fontenot’s actions were justifiable and others who think his actions were cold-blooded murder/premeditated. Some have even gone to the extreme of comparing Fontenot’s actions to that of confessed killer Brandon Scott Lavergne, which is absurd!

Many people in Louisiana are under the impression that in order to be charged with First Degree Murder, there must be some form of premeditation. Like someone has to write a manifesto and plan out their crime, like they do on TV.

Guess what? That isn’t so! Louisiana law requires “specific intent” under either First Degree or Second Degree murder. According to Attorney Stephen Spring, First Degree murder requires an aggravating circumstance defined in the the Louisiana revised statute.

The three primary categories for homicide in Louisiana are first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter.

The definitions of first and second-degree murder, according to Attorney Stephen Spring, are:

The Definition of First Degree Murder

First degree murder can be the charge for any of the following conditions:

  1. The killing of a person with “specific Intent” while committing certain felony crimes.  This is known as the felony murder statute. The felony crimes include:  aggravated rape, forcible rape, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, second degree kidnapping, aggravated escape, assault by drive by shooting, armed robbery, first degree robbery, second degree robbery, simple robbery, cruelty to juveniles, second degree cruelty to juveniles, and terrorism.
  2. Killing a certain type of person, including police officers, children under the age of 12, and people over the age of 65, with specific intent.
  3. Killing more than one person

The Definition of Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder can be the charge in any of the following conditions:

  1. The offender has the specific intent to kill or inflict bodily harm, but is not also committing a felony crime
  2. A person in the process of committing a felony crime kills someone, but without specific intent to kill. For example, if the offender is engaged in an armed robbery and someone dies during the crime, the charge could be second degree murder, even if the death was accidental or unintentional.
  3. A drug dealer distributes a controlled dangerous substance listed in the schedule I – IV in the uniformed dangerous substances law (examples are cocaine and heroin) and that distribution is the direct cause of the death of the recipient who consumed the drugs.

According to Spring, with a First Degree murder conviction, a suspect can face either the death penalty or live in prison without the eligibility of parole where Second Degree murder is life imprisonment without parole.

Unlike First and Second Degree murder, Attorney Stephen Spring says, “manslaughter is generally a crime of passion.” Some examples of this may be:

  • Murdering your spouse after catching her in bed with your best friend.
  • Murdering someone you just had an altercation with who started it but then retreated and you kill them after they retreated.

You can contact experienced Louisiana criminal attorney Stephen Spring at Phone: 225-932-9671 or 202-596-2354 or email: