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LaKeith Smith and the Felony Murder Rule

How this legal rule felony murder disproportionately impacts Black youth.

About this episode:

In 2015, a police officer shot and killed LaKeith Smith’s friend, A’Donte Washington, during a burglary gone wrong. But years later, LaKeith is the one behind bars for murder.

LaKeith was originally given a sentence of 65 years, after being convicted of burglary, theft, and something called felony murder.

In certain criminal cases, the felony murder rule allows a person to be charged with murder even if they’re not the one who did the killing. Experts say it’s a legal charge that disproportionately hurts young, Black, and brown men.

In a March resentencing hearing, a judge ruled that LaKeith’s sentences could be served concurrently, thus reducing his overall time; but LaKeith’s family and supporters were still left heartbroken because even with this reduction, he’s facing a 30-year sentence.

Trymaine Lee spoke to LaKeith’s mother, Tina Smith, about her family’s continued fight for justice. And we talked to lawyer Leroy Maxwell and activist Daniel Forkkio, along with Andre Washington, the father of A’Donte Washington, about what true justice for his son would look like.

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Find the transcript here.

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