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Examining Oklahoma Murder Charges - KOAM TV 7

Examining Oklahoma Murder Charges

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Jay, Oklahoma -

Tony Rutherford says he was firing at somebody he thought was stealing a family vehicle, and his attorney says the circumstances surrounding the shooting do not constitute a crime. But that hasn't stopped Rutherford from being charged with first degree murder.

Miami general practitioner Douglas Pewitt sheds some light on what separates first degree murder from other murder charges.

"First degree murder is an intentional murder. That's really the essence of it. It's premeditated. That doesn't mean that a person has to have a long standing plan, but they have to form the desire to kill someone, and to actually accomplish it," said Pewitt.

Pewitt describes second degree murder as an extremely dangerous criminal act that results in a loss of life, but one without the intent to kill. He also breaks down what constitutes manslaughter. 

"Manslaughter, is something that happens either as a result of negligence, or it's a death that results in the commission of a lesser crime," said Pewitt.

Some have wondered if Stand Your Ground laws might apply in Rutherford's case, but that doesn't seem to be the case considering the known circumstances of the shooting.

"If somebody is seriously moving towards you and you feel, you're in serious danger, then you may use violence to defend yourself or somebody else, such as your wife or child. But if you're moving forward into a fight that you caused, (Stand Your Ground) doesn't apply," said Pewitt.

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