The Law: Vicarious Murder

When the two robbers entered a liquor store in Oakland, Calif., they did not see Linda West, wife of the owner, who was standing on a ladder checking the stock. As she watched. John Smith started waving a gun at her husband, and James Daniels nervously warned, "Don't move or we'll have an execution right here." Mrs. West calmly drew the pistol she was carrying and started shooting. Smith was killed, Daniels badly wounded.

Was Mrs. West legally responsible for Smith's death? Hardly. In the eyes of the law, the proper defendants in the killing were the victim's buddies−not only the wounded...

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