A Fremont County, Colorado, man was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder (C.R.S. 18-3-103) after he shot and killed his brother in what amounts to Homicide / Murder. The man claimed that he thought he was firing a bean-bag round at his brother, and that he was doing so because his brother had initiated a physical altercation. Bean-bag ammunition will typically not result in death when fired, but is used mainly for the purpose of incapacitation. The man is being held in the Fremont County jail, which is part of the 11th Judicial District and also includes Park County, Chaffee County, and Custer County.
A person commits Homicide / Murder (second-degree murder) in Denver, Adams, and Douglas County, Colorado, if they knowingly cause the death of another person. It is distinguished from murder in the first degree by the underlying mental state necessary to prove the crime. In first-degree murder (C.R.S. 18-3-102), a person must act after deliberation and with the intent to cause the death of another person (or under additional aggravating circumstances). The difference between acting intentionally / after deliberation and acting knowingly can be a very close question of fact, and both mental states are specifically defined as legal terms of art. In this case, the District Attorney will have to prove that this man knowingly caused his brother's death. If he was mistaken about the type of ammunition he was using, his defense attorneys will argue that he was not acting with the required mental state.
A good criminal defense attorney will also raise an affirmative defense in this case. An affirmative defense completely negates criminal liability, and prosecutors must disprove the affirmative defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Here, if the deceased brother was the initiator of the physical altercation between the two men, the accused may have a valid self-defense (C.R.S. 18-1-704) argument. However, he would have to establish that he was in imminent danger, and that the Deadly Force used was "reasonable" in defending against that imminent threat.
If you have been accused of any crime against another person in Arapahoe, Jefferson, Larimer or Weld County, such as homicide/murder, manslaughter (C.R.S. 18-3-104), or assault (C.R.S. 18-3-202), the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the O'Malley Law Office can mount a powerful defense for you. If you are being investigated by the Aurora, Centennial, or Westminster police, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.