LAPD officers working out of the Industry Station received a call about a possible burglary taking place in a Hacienda Heights neighborhood. Witnesses claimed they saw two men breaking into a home while a third waited nearby in a Camaro. When police arrived on the scene, the suspects were already gone. However, the getaway car was identified by officers at a nearby intersection.
Police attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver quickly took off. In a semi-successful effort to ditch police, the driver swerved into oncoming traffic – an action that police officers tend to avoid wherever possible. Not long after driving the wrong way down the street, the suspects smashed into an SUV, killing 66-year-old driver Rojelio Gonzalez. The suspects, Anthony Quisenberry, Michael Smyer and Charles Allen all fled the Camaro after the impact but were apprehended shortly thereafter. The suspects are currently facing a slew of charges, ranging from residential burglary, felony evading a police officer resulting in injury or death, and murder.
Murder is by far the most serious in the litany of charges the suspects are facing. Covered under California Penal Code 187, murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human or fetus with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought can be a little confusing, since it sounds like it means that an individual maliciously intended to kill their victim. What it actually means is that the person acted in a manner displaying a “wanton disregard for human life.” In this case, barreling into oncoming traffic certainly qualifies as an act of “wanton disregard for human life.”
Due to the nature of the initial crime they allegedly committed (felony residential burglary), the suspects are also subject to California’s Felony Murder Rule. This rule states that if an innocent person is killed during the commission of an unrelated felony (burglary in this case). Because the suspects are alleged to have burgled a home before they tried to escape police, they could very well be guilty of murder because Rojelio Gonzalez was killed in their escape attempt.