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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

What accused murderers face in Missouri

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2022 | Homicide |

Two Missouri men were recently indicted on charges of conspiratorial murder and murder-for-hire. The actions of the defendants allegedly resulted in a fatal shooting. 

The prosecution argued the actions of the perpetrators, Moreion Lindsey and Ray Bradley, led to the victim’s death. This case may also involve drug charges, as the apparent motive was to hide the robbery of cocaine and other drugs worth several million dollars. Both men pleaded not guilty.

Murder laws in Missouri

Murder constitutes the illegal killing of another individual, usually involving malice. The state defines malice as having knowledge and intent or desire to commit an illegal act.  

Missouri is one of the few death penalty states remaining in the US. Only those defendants who were under the age of 17 at the time of their convicted crime can be excluded from a death penalty sentence. 

Potential defenses

Individuals charged with murder and murder-for-hire have several options they can use to help reduce or dismiss their charge, called partial defenses and complete defenses. Partial defenses consider mitigating circumstances. This strategy could lead to a lesser charge, such as manslaughter. Complete defenses, on the other hand, are strategies that attempt to absolve intent with the hopes of an acquittal. Arguments for a complete defense may include lack of intent, lack of knowledge, or actual innocence.

The defense may also turn to mens rea, Latin for “guilty mind.” The argument of mens rea questions the mental state of a defendant. This defense attempts to determine if the defendant had the mental fortuity to appreciate the impact of their behavior at the time of the act. Actus reus, Latin for “guilty act,” is where the defense outlines omissions or acts of the crime as required by the law. It’s an investigation of the crime’s physical elements and a prerequisite for determining criminal liability.

Aggravated circumstances

To pursue a death penalty charge, prosecutors will present evidence of aggravating circumstances, which can solidify the execution of a death sentence. As of now, In the Lindsey/Bradley case, there is only an indictment, which does not constitute proof. 

The prosecutor’s arguments can use the drug connection to elevate the intent and seriousness of the charges. The defense, in turn, will need to minimize significant pieces of evidence, such as the defendants driving the victim to the scene where the murder took place and the defendants taking pictures of the victim after they were killed.