In Arkansas as in other states, the charge of first-degree murder is the highest degree of homicide. It includes the aspect of deliberate planning, lying in wait or other elements of intentional and knowing homicide. The prosecution must prove that the accused acted with intentional and deliberate intent, sometimes called malice aforethought, to commit murder.
That degree of homicide is distinguished from lesser degrees, such as second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and other less serious crimes. Generally, the gravity of the crime and the punishment prescribed is based on how knowing, intentional and deliberate were the actions of the accused. The recent arrest of a man in Little Rock for first degree-murder will likely involve determining the foregoing issues of criminal intent.
The authorities picked up the 24-year-old man recently in Little Rock after reports that he shot and killed his girlfriend, a 26-year-old woman, in his mother's house during an argument and fight. Police say that the man and his girlfriend were drinking vodka and arguing when the defendant's mother intervened. At that time, it is reported that the victim punched the mother twice, which was followed by the defendant saying "Don't hit my mother."
He immediately shot at the victim five times, according to police reports. He reportedly told his mother later on the phone that he "just lost it." Police say that bullets were lodged in the woman's chest and head, and that she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The suspect reportedly fled the scene but was later apprehended. If the reported facts hold true, it is likely that the charge of first-degree murder under Arkansas law will be reduced in plea negotiations. The facts of drinking alcohol, observing the victim punching his mother and suddenly losing control may not excuse the crime. These facts may, however, help to reduce the level of intent down to second degree murder or even to manslaughter. To obtain the best result, defense counsel must be exceptionally persistent and aggressive in his negotiating position.
Source: nwaonline.com, "Man pleads innocent in LR slaying", Scott Carroll, June 5, 2015