Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles The year is 2001 and a young woman is returning home to her apartment with her hands full of recently bought groceries. As she walks down the hallway towards the door of her apartment, she sees her neighbor holding on to the leashes of two incredibly strong and vicious-looking mastiff dogs. The woman is taking care of them while their owner, a high-ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood, serves time in prison. No sooner than the dogs see the woman they lunge forward, easily getting away from the woman who's holding them. A savage attack ensues. She does not survive the prolonged assault, after being bitten on every part of her body beside her scalp and the soles of her feet. The woman who was looking after the dogs understood how dangerous they were. She and her husband were both attorneys doing legal work for the imprisoned owner, so that's how they ended up with the dogs. They were aware of how those dogs – the largest weighing 140 pounds (64 kg) – had been badly treated and were extremely aggressive. Ok viewers, think about that short story for a second. You haven't been given all the facts, but you've heard the basics. What was the person taking care of the dogs guilty of? What about her husband, who wasn't even there at the time of the attack? The answer is, both the husband and wife were sent to prison at first for involuntary manslaughter. The thing is, the wife had at first been charged with what's called implied-malice second-degree murder, and although the jury had found her guilty of that, the judge rejected the decision. Seven years later, that decision was reinstated. The dogs, by the way, were euthanized after the attack. You could say they got the death sentence. Some of you might now be thinking how come the husband was convicted of manslaughter even though he wasn't there. Others might be thinking, well, he was equally responsible since he agreed to look after the dogs. We're guessing most of you are wondering what on Earth is implied-malice second-degree murder. The short answer is it's a degree of murder. In the realms of law and how it's applied, murder is far from simple. Today we explain what all the degrees are, and to make things clearer for you, we'll give you some rather stark examples. Ok, so you've all heard of the word, “homicide”. You've probably watched a cop show and heard the line, “I think we've got a homicide on our hands.” It basically means the killing of another person. It might have happened through a reckless act, or it might have been on purpose. It could also be unintentional, or an accident. There is something called “non-culpable homicide”. What that means is that the act of killing a person was justified in some way, such as in self-defense, or when a soldier kills another soldier. It could also be an accident in which a person that caused the accident is not at all at fault. The Latin word “culpa” means fault or blame, so you can be culpable or not culpable. When there's a non-culpable homicide, compensation might be sought, but it's not a criminal offense. However, if you cause an accident and someone dies it could be a criminal offense if your actions were a result of “willful blindness,” or “negligence.” A man in the US was convicted of negligent homicide after he left his 6-month old daughter in a vehicle for six hours. She died as a result. The man claimed he'd forgotten. After finding his daughter, he put her in the refrigerator to cool her down. Even though this all sounds quite horrific, in the end, he didn't do any prison time. Negligent homicide is similar to manslaughter, but it's also different. They both relate to killing a person without any intention to do so, although the former concerns not doing something rather than doing something. Manslaughter is more about recklessness, while negligent homicide relates more to making a fatal mistake. How courts see things depends on them. That guy who left his kid in the car could have been convicted of manslaughter, and there have even been cases where the same happened and the parent has been charged with murder. That happened in 2016 in Georgia. As you'll understand after you've finished the show, what a person is charged with doesn't always make sense, or at least Person A and Person B can commit the exact same offense and there are two different outcomes in relation to what they're convicted of. Culpable homicide has three main categories: murder, manslaughter and infanticide (that means killing an infant). As you'll see, there's more to it than this, though. Let's start with something rather easy. Take the story of Ted Bundy. He killed people because he wanted to kill people. That was his intention. That's certainly a culpable homicide. As is hurting someone so bad that the perpetrator is pretty sure the injuries will lead to death. Ok, so what if Mr. A plans to kill Mr. B, but he doesn't achieve this, but actually kills bystander Mrs. C. What's that? Well, it's still murder even if the person didn't mean to kill Mrs. C. and that's because his first intention was to kill, but in this case, the killing was transferred to another person. This is called “transferred intent.” Let's now give you an example. A woman in the US was shot and killed even though she was totally unknown to the guy that pulled the trigger. He was standing a block away having an argument with a guy when he shot the gun. You could say he didn't mean to kill the woman, but because he did mean to kill the man, he was charged with murder with transferred intent. Even if you do something that you know is so crazy that it could possibly kill someone but you didn't have the explicit aim to kill someone, it can still be ruled as a murder. It basically means that your conduct was so damn dangerous and foolish that when a person died as a result it is murder. This could be said to be a third-degree murder, something which not all states in the US have. In other countries, it just wouldn't be called murder. It'd be called manslaughter. It can also be called “depraved-heart murder,” which sounds like something from Middle Ages Britain. We should say that this can be both second-degree and third-degree. We told you this was complicated. Let's give you a real-life example of a depraved heart murder. There was a teenager in the US who thought it would be a good idea to get the guys together and play a game of Russian roulette. That's never a good idea. One kid died as a result. During the trial, his defense argued that it wasn't murder because there was no intent, but in the end, he was found guilty under the depraved-heart murder doctrine. We found a more recent example involving a man who supplied a woman with drugs knowing that the drugs were very strong. She died sometime later, and the guy was convicted of depraved-heart third-degree murder. That happened in the state of Minnesota, a place where you can be convicted of third-degree murder for the murder of an unborn child. This is how this kind of murder has been explained. A murder “without intent to effect the death of any person, causing the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.” Yep, being stupid can make you a murderer, in some countries at least. In many countries, if you can't prove killing with intent you will not be sentenced to murder at all, but the sentence of the crime will be based on just how reckless the action was. Then you have second-degree murder, which also differs from state to state or how a jury in any state will view the crime. Unlike what we've just talked about, it usually involves the killing of another without explicit intent. Let's imagine that you've lent your friend some cash but when you ask for it back, he refuses to pay up. Worse than that, he then tells you that you never gave him any money, and anyway, you're a total pushover. He then goes and tells his friends what a loser you are. Another thing, your mom is always going on about how you need anger management sessions. You are infuriated at that very moment, and even though you have no plan to kill the guy, you just pick up a baseball bat that is handily laying around and whack him with it. In this case, you might be charged with second-degree murder because you didn't plan on killing him. You did know, though, that when you violently swung that bat, you'd cause serious damage to his head. If he actually started hitting you and you went overboard and smashed his head with that bat it could be deemed a lesser crime, but we'll get around to that. You could have also been charged with second-degree murder if you showed what is called extreme indifference to human life. Let's imagine you didn't have a bat, but inside your house, you had a gun. Since your emotions were all exploding you went into your house and grabbed it. When you went outside you just acted up, not really firing at your friend, who was now some distance away laughing about you with his friends, but you fired over their heads to cause a scene...except someone was hit and died. Maybe you thought it was an accident, but you showed extreme indifference to human life. Now you're a second-degree murderer. Something similar recently happened recently in Alaska. Two men had been arguing in a car when the driver ordered his friend to get out. The driver went on for a bit and then turned around. He drove back in the same direction and swerved as if to hit his friend. This could have been first-degree murder, but he was only charged with second-degree because it was thought he didn't really mean to kill him. Ok, so what is that thing called “Felony Murder.” It basically means that someone had the intent to commit a felony crime but in the process of doing that someone was killed. This can be complicated, too, so we'll give you an example. Two guys go into a clothing store with the intention of robbing it. That's a felony crime. But during the commission of that crime, one of the guys pulls out a gun and shoots the store owner. Ok, so the other guy didn't even know his buddy was carrying a gun, but it doesn't matter, he was there. He could be charged with felony murder, either first-degree or second-degree, but likely first-degree. Let's now change the scenario. The two guys go into the store unarmed, except this time the owner pulls out a gun and kills one of the offenders. He leaves the other alone. The owner is not charged with anything since he was protecting his property, but the surviving guy is charged with felony murder because it's partly his fault his friend was shot. This has happened and it's happened a lot. It's a good reason not to take part in a crime if you know your friends are unstable and dangerous. Most countries would never convict, say, a getaway driver of murder, or the guy keeping lookout, but some states in the US have a zero-tolerance to these crimes never mind if someone was just there. A young man in 2004 was sentenced to life without parole for a felony murder even though he wasn't even close to the crime. He'd just lent his car to some friends, but he'd been told they were going to steal drugs from people. He didn't, however, know anyone would be killed. This is what he later said, “I honestly thought they were going to get food. When they actually mentioned what was going on, I thought it was a joke.” His sentence was later reduced to 25 years. The lesson to be learned here is don't lend your car to small-time gangsters. You could end up facing a lifetime in prison. You can also be convicted of capital murder, which is one that can lead to the death penalty. This can be very straightforward of course, but it can also be felony murder. There are umpteen cases of people not pulling the trigger but were executed just because they were there. In most cases, the people that didn't commit the actual murder were participants in the crime, but in some cases, they may not have known anyone would be killed. That's another reason not to hang out with maniacs. It could get you an appointment with a cocktail of lethal drugs. So, what about that woman at the start of the show who was convicted of implied-malice second-degree murder. What exactly does that mean? Some states will call this a murder in which a person shows “a conscious disregard for life.” In this case, the jury agreed that the woman knew those dogs were capable of killing someone, and yet she still took them out for a walk. She was also aware that if they should try and get away from her she'd be helpless to stop them. You could be charged with this if you joined in on beating some guy up. You and your friends carried on doing it until the guy was black and blue. You should have known this could result in death. Another case in which it could happen is if you had firearms training and killed someone accidentally while showing off your gun. Again, you should have known better. Many drunk drivers have faced this charge. Some courts might find you guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, but if they think you showed enough implied malice they might find you guilty of murder. Manslaughter also has degrees, and they can sound similar to some of the degrees of murder we've discussed. At times, someone might die because of your actions but you might not be charged with a crime at all. Imagine you were walking down the street and some drunk guy bumped into you and then fell and hit his head. That's not a crime. But what if you pushed him? Well, if it's a crime will depend on how hard you pushed him and the whims of criminal justice. There's involuntary manslaughter, which means the unintentional killing of someone from negligence or reckless behavior. That can also sometimes be deemed a kind of murder. An example of involuntary manslaughter could be a guy working on a rollercoaster who forgets to buckle someone in and they die. It wasn't a depraved action and there was no malice, unless the guy was drunk or something. In most cases, if he was just forgetful, it would be involuntary manslaughter. Let's give you a real-life example of involuntary manslaughter and a strange one at that. A rich man hired a young man to dig a hole under his mansion to find a hidden nuclear bunker. As the man was digging, there was an electrical fire and he died. The rich man was later charged with involuntary manslaughter, which meant his reckless actions had caused the death.