A 31-year-old female hit-and-run driver speeding near the Missouri State University campus in Springfield, Missouri, struck and killed a 23-year-old male bicycle rider. That has led to second degree murder charges, but they are not pending against the hit and run driver, but against her 24-year-old former boyfriend, who authorities claim was chasing her at high speeds in a stolen car after threatening her with a handgun. He allegedly rammed his vehicle twice into the back of hers, helping to cause the car accident.

Murder charges were lodged against him on a felony murder theory—that he caused the death while engaged in committing felony crimes. His ex-girlfriend, fearing for her life and trying to escape him by speeding towards police headquarters, was traveling at an estimated 85 mph while passing through an intersection at Bear Boulevard and Kimbrough Avenue. She saw the bike rider and tried to swerve and brake to avoid him, but was traveling at too high a speed to do so and collided with him, inflicting fatal injuries.

This flung the bike rider so high in the air that the pursuing ex-boyfriend actually drove under his body before he fell back to the ground. Prosecutors say that the ex-boyfriend was carrying out felony crimes of domestic assault in the first degree as well as tampering in the first degree in stealing the car he was driving. Under the felony murder doctrine, someone can be charged with murder if they cause a death in the course of committing another felony.

In addition to criminal charges, the family of the dead bicyclist could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, possibly against both the ex-boyfriend and the woman he was chasing whose vehicle directly struck the bike rider. Both arguably contributed to causing his death. Such a lawsuit could recover medical and funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income and services.

Source: News-Leader, “Bicyclist death near MSU leads to murder charge – but not against driver who hit him and ran” Jess Rollins, Dec. 17, 2013

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