A Boston man, from Dorchester, was charged with Murder after the man he allegedly shot at, but missed, died from an asthma attack.
According to Suffolk County prosecutors, the defendant allegedly started shooting at three men. One of the men shot at was Kelvin Rowell, 40 years old. Although Rowell was able to get away safely and was not hit by any of the bullets, he apparently suffered an asthma attack and was unable to breathe, falling into a coma shortly thereafter and eventually dying.
The Massachusetts Office of the Medical Examiner has ruled the death a homicide.
What is interesting in a murder case such as this is that the victim was never struck with a bullet, i.e., his death was not a direct result of having been shot, or shot at all.
So how is the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office able to charge this defendant with murder?
Prosecutors are likely proceeding with murder charges on the theory that the defendant's actions or conduct was the proximate cause of the defendant's death. Under Massachusetts criminal law, "proximate cause" is established when the conduct of the defendant sets forth into motion a chain of events that result in death.
In other words, the prosecution is likely theorizing that the defendant's conduct in shooting at the defendant, despite missing, by the natural and continuous sequence of events, i.e., the victim suffering an asthma attack, caused the death. Put different, without the unlawful conduct of shooting at the victim, he would not have suffered an asthma attack and would not have died.
Although the defense will surely examine this and other available defenses in this case, it will surely be very interesting to see how this specific issue is addressed and ultimately handled.