When a Victim is Charged with the Crime

In yet another incident of police violence, discrimination, and racial injustice, 18-year-old Lakeith Smith has been convicted of a felony murder that the court knows he did not commit.

Smith stands to serve 65 years in prison for three consecutive sentences, including the felony murder conviction of his then 16-year-old friend A’Donte Washington, who was fatally shot four times by Alabama police after engaging in a shoot-out.

Smith was offered a plea deal that would have given him 25 years in prison, but he instead opted to go to trial.

But because of Alabama’s Accomplice Law, Smith was — in the eyes of the court — legally responsible for the criminal activities that subsequently led to Washington’s death, and therefore legally responsible for that death, despite never having possessed or fired a weapon during the entirety of the incident.

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