An elderly veteran was killed in the backyard of his Birmingham home, allegedly by a neighborhood teenager that may have also stolen the man’s vehicle. According to The Washington Post, the teenager in custody for the crime was seen running through an alley near the home where the incident occurred with a red gasoline container. Police believe the teenager and the victim got into an altercation, which led the teenager to douse the man with gasoline and then set him on fire.
AL.com reports that the victim was a veteran of the Korean War that had lived in the home where the incident took place for over 50 years, taking care of a disabled son and helping to keep the community looking nice by mowing neighbors’ lawns. Neighbors noticed something on fire in the elderly man’s backyard and called one of the man’s relatives that lived nearby. The relative’s son went over to the victim’s home to see what was on fire, believing it was likely the victim’s recreational vehicle. However, when the man entered the backyard he found that the victim was actually on fire. At that point, the man ran back to the front of the house and called for neighbors to call police because someone had set the victim on fire. Unfortunately, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. There is no indication if the victim was still alive before he was set on fire.
The teenager is facing capital murder charges, which means that he could be subject to the death penalty if he is found guilty of this murder. Alabama law classifies capital murder as murder that takes place during the commission of kidnapping, robbery, rape, sodomy, burglary, or arson. Alabama capital murder also includes any of the following:
- Murder of a state or federal law enforcement official;
- Murder of any current or past public official;
- Murder of a victim less than 14 years old;
- Murder with the use of a deadly weapon;
- Murder by someone that has committed any other murder within the past 20 years;
- Murder of anyone acting as a witness in a trial; and
- Murder of several other classes of people specified in the law.
According to the same law, capital murder charges cannot be brought against someone that did not actually commit the murder unless such individual was complicit in the actions of the murder. In other words, a person cannot be guilty of capital murder if they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time unless they actively participated in the murder, encouraged the murder, or allowed the murder to take place. In the current case, AL.com reports that the accused has confessed to committing the crime but has not provided any solid motive.
Facing Similar Charges
Murder charges in all forms are extremely serious and require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is important to understand the potentially serious nature of these charges, and contacting an attorney as soon as possible is a crucial first step in facing such charges.