A local Bay Area basketball player, Decensae White, was extradited to Atlanta last week in connection with the 2012 killing of a Georgia rapper. White was arrested for his alleged role in the murder in Redwood City last month, and is scheduled to appear in court in Fulton County later this week.domes.jpg
According to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, five individuals, including White, have been charged in connection with the July 7, 2012, slaying of Melvin Vernell III, who rapped under the name Lil Phat. Vernell, 19, was gunned down by two men outside a Georgia hospital as his girlfriend was preparing to give birth. Prosecutors believe the suspects were “business associates,” allegedly motivated by drugs and other factors, which purportedly led them to conspire to hire hitmen to kill Vernell. White’s potential role in the alleged scheme remains unclear.
Under California law, murder is defined as:
The unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.
Thus, the charge has two components: the action and the mental state. The mental state requirement, referred to as malice, can either be express or implied.
Malice aforethought is considered to be expressed when there is some manifested deliberate intention to unlawfully kill someone else. This can be through words or actions. “Unlawfully” means that it is not in self defense, for example.
Malice aforethought is implied when there is no considerable provocation, such as the victim taunting the perpetrator (which might change the nature of the criminal charge),
or when the circumstances attending the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart. This is so called “cold hearted murder” as opposed to murder committed “in the heat of passion.”
In other words, while there may not be any objective manifestation of malice, there is no evidence of actions that might have prompted the killing, or the nature of the killing’s evidence was such that the malice speaks for itself. What matters is the person’s intention at the time of the action.
In addition to proving these elements beyond any reasonable doubt , the government bears the burden of proving any additional elements that the particular charge may require. It must also ensure that all evidence is collected according to stringent legal requirements, and that the defendant’s constitutional rights are preserved. Failure to follow protocol could make evidence inadmissible, and therefore could lead to the charges against you being dropped.
If you or a loved one has been accused of murder or any other crime in Santa Clara or San Mateo County, call our experienced Bay Area criminal defense attorneys today. It is in your best interests to hire a defense attorney as soon as possible, even if formal charges have not been filed yet. Do not speak with a detective, investigator, police officer, or government official before speaking to one of our experienced attorneys. Call us today at (415) 946-4020 in order to schedule your free initial consultation. You can also contact us through our website.