Asa North, a man arrested in Coweta County in 2016, was convicted this past week and sentenced to twenty years. Ten of those years are to be served in prison, and the following ten years were probated.
However, after more thorough investigation on behalf of the county, the district attorney upped North's charges to second degree murder.
According to reports, North left his two daughters, both 15 months old at the time, in his vehicle in August. The investigation showed that the temperature was 91 degrees outside. This means that the temperature in the car most likely got up to 135 degrees after an hour. When officers arrived at the scene, people motioned them to head toward the back of an apartment complex where they noticed residents holding two unresponsive girls in a pool, trying to revive them.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will outline the offense of second degree murder as it is what North was convicted of this past week.
Second Degree Murder in Georgia
Second Degree Murder in Georgia is rarely discussed because the law behind the criminal offense can be complicated to understand. It is not as commonly charged as other homicide offenses such as murder in Georgia.
By law, second degree murder is defined by the Georgia Code in O.C.G.A. §16-5-1 as:
A person commits the offense of murder in the second degree when, in the commission of cruelty to children in the second degree, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.
The penalty for a second degree murder conviction will be a prison term for a period of ten to thirty years.
So as you can see from the law, there is a predicate offense to second degree murder - cruelty to children in Georgia. Second degree cruelty to children is defined in O.C.G.A. §16-5-70 as:
When a person with criminal negligence causes a child less than 18 years old cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.
In order to be guilty of second degree cruelty to children, there must be evidence establishing the age of the child, whether the child or children suffered physical or mental pain, that the pain was cruel or excessive, that the defendant caused the pain, and that the defendant acted maliciously in committing the crime. A second degree cruelty to children conviction comes with the consequences of a prison term between one and ten years and it is also a felony conviction.
Homicide offenses are handled very seriously in Georgia - especially those involving children. Although North was found guilty - that is not the case in every homicide case. An arrest is not the same thing as a conviction. Here at Lawson and Berry, we understand that just because someone has been accused of a crime does not mean that they have committed that crime.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for committing a crime in Georgia, contact our offices today. A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney can help you with your case and determine which course of action is right for you.