Wednesday, 16. April 2014
What’s unique about Holle’s case is that the prosecution fully admits that the 21-year-old was sleeping, miles away from the incident, when the killing occurred. So why was Holle sentenced to life in prison for murder? Because of an outdated law called the Felony Murder Law.
In the early morning hours of March 10, 2003, Holle was hanging with some friends after a night out partying. Holle decided he wanted to call it a night and go to bed, but his buddies had other ideas. William Allen Jr., Holle’s housemate, asked if he could borrow the 21-year-old’s car. Having no need for it since he was about to turn in for the night, Holle handed his housemate the keys.
Allen and three associates drove to the house of a well-known drug dealer a few miles away. They knew the dealer had a safe in her house, and they planned to rob it. The group went inside the house and threatened the woman and her family. During the robbery, one of the men, Charles Miller Jr., bludgeoned the drug dealer’s 18-year-old daughter to death with a shotgun he found inside the house. The group made off with a pound of marijuana and $1,425.
The Felony Murder Rule
Not surprisingly, the men were arrested for the crime shortly thereafter. What was surprising was the fact that authorities also arrested Holle, despite witness reports that he was not at the scene when the crime took place. Police decided to charge Holle with first-degree murder under a legal doctrine known as the Felony Murder Rule, which states:
Anybody who participates in a felony offense is criminally liable for any deaths that occur during or in furtherance of that felony.
In other words, because Holle lent his car to his friend, which they then used to commit a felony, the prosecution merely needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Holle knew his friends were going to use his car to aid in a felony offense.
Holle gave a statement to police in which he seemed to admit to knowing that his friends were going to go commit a robbery, and as the prosecutor explained during trial, “No car, no murder.”
Holle changed his stance in an interview in 2007, saying he “honestly thought they were going to get food,” adding that he didn’t think they were serious about the robbery plans.
“When they mentioned what as going on, I thought it was a joke,” he said.
They jury didn’t see it Holle’s way, and he received the same sentence as the four men at the scene of the crime – Life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Is It Justice?
It’s worth noting that the wife/drug dealer was sentenced to three years in prison for marijuana possession, but when you compare her misdeeds to those of Holle, is it really fair?
As the father pointed out during the trial, “It never would have happened unless Ryan Holle had lent the car,” but can’t the same be said about the mother? If she hadn’t been a known drug dealer with a stash of marijuana and cash, the crime would never have occurred. She got three years, but Holle could easily spend over 50 years behind bars.
Where is the justice in that?