Saturday, December 5, 2015

Man Charged with Murder After Cop Wrecks his Own Car and Died While Trying to Give Him Ticket

Like Brandon Ellingson, James Bava died at the hands of the Missouri Highway Patrol –but in Bava’s case, those hands were his own. Trooper Bava perished on August 28 when he crashed his patrol vehicle while giving pursuit to a speeding motorcyclist, later identified as twenty-year-old Serghei Pavel Comerzan.
Last week, Comerzan was arrested and charged with resisting a lawful stop, careless and imprudent driving, and failure to register a motor vehicle. Owing largely, if not entirely, to the privileged status of the individual who died while pursuing him, Comerzan was also charged with second-degree murder (or, alternatively, first-degree manslaughter), despite the fact that Trooper Bava’s own actions were the proximate cause of his own death.
Under the well-established legal principle called the “felony murder rule,” an accidental killing that occurs during the course of a “dangerous felony” can be charged as first-degree murder. For example, the driver of a get-away car following an armed robbery can be charged with murder even if he didn’t pull the trigger when the bank teller was shot.
The most recent revision of the Missouri statute dealing with second-degree murder specifies that the charge is appropriate when the accused “knowingly causes the death of another person,” acts “with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another person,” or “Commits or attempts to commit any felony….” Since the prosecution would have great difficulty proving that Comerzan intended to kill or injure Bava, they would probably rely on a subtle situational sentence enhancement found in one of the misdemeanor statutes the driver is accused of violating.


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