Parker v. State

In Parker v. State, 292 Ark. 421, 731 S.W.2d 756 (1987) the supreme court reversed and remanded two capital-felony murder convictions against William Frank Parker based on prosecutions under what was Ark. Stat. Ann. 41-1501(1)(a), which required that a murder be committed "in the course of and in furtherance of" any of several enumerated felonies, including burglary. Parker was divorced from Pam Warren, the daughter of James Warren. On the date of the homicides, James Warren and Cindy Warren, another of his daughters, were getting into Mr. Warren's truck in front of their house when they saw Parker approaching the truck with a gun. Parker fired shots at Cindy Warren but missed her. Then he chased Mr. Warren into the house where Mr. Warren and his wife, Sandra Warren, were later found shot to death. The supreme court concluded that the killings, although obviously a form of criminal homicide, were not "in the course of and in furtherance of" a burglary as required to be capital-felony murder. Chief Justice Jack Holt, Jr., wrote the majority opinion and addressed the issue as follows: "For the phrase "in the course of and in furtherance of the felony" to have any meaning, the burglary must have an independent objective which the murder facilitates. In this instance, the burglary and murder have the same objective. That objective, the intent to kill, is what makes the underlying act of entry into the home a burglary. The burglary was actually no more than one step toward the commission of the murder and was not to facilitate the murder." (Id. at 427, 731 S.W.2d at 759.)