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Road-rage suspect: Criminal defense to first-degree murder on tap

Pennsylvania like other states is plagued with occasional instances of serious violence emanating from incidents of road rage. When an innocent life is lost because of senseless road rage, the alleged perpetrator will potentially face the maximum penalties available under law. Nonetheless, even when such reprehensible acts are proved to be true, the accused is entitled to be represented by a competent criminal defense lawyer and to be given all the rights of anyone accused of serious crime.

In our adversary system, the alleged perpetrator will receive the strongest defense available, and he or she will face a strong prosecution with all the resources of the state mobilized to obtain a conviction. The theory of the system is that the defendant must be given every chance to defend himself, because the system cannot allow an innocent man to be convicted and perhaps executed. These considerations must be kept in mind regarding the rights of a 28-year-old man to obtain a fair trial in the road rage death of an 18-year-old woman whom he is accused of killing over a traffic dispute.

The two vehicles reportedly were merging into a single lane of traffic on a highway, and the alleged perpetrator was not happy with the outcome. He allegedly pulled a gun and began shooting the teen driver in the head. She was found dead after crashing into a tree. The alleged perpetrator took off from the scene, but surveillance videos were used by the police to identify the truck and its owner.

Police say the accused had a permit for the semi-automatic handgun, which they allegedly found in his bedroom. The Chester County District Attorney has charged him with first-degree murder and reckless endangerment under Pennsylvania law. If the reports are correct, the considerable challenge of criminal defense counsel will be to find a way to reduce the first-degree murder charge to a lesser degree of homicide. Experienced counsel may draw on his or her experience with the members of the prosecution team in prior cases to try and convince them why the accused should not suffer the most severe punishment under the law.

Source: cnn.com, "Road rage suspect turns himself in, faces murder charges", Jay Croft, July 3, 2017

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