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They argued that the men did not understand the risk involved and assumed they had the situation under control. Carsten Momsen: You could sense it was coming, but it is surprising. All the more because the court assumed the suspects maintained a latent death wish. The court presumed the defendants accepted the possibility that the race could result in death.

But should it also be presumed that this means their own deaths? By driving at speeds exceeding kilometers an hour, you are intentionally causing an accident or accepting the possibility of one happening.

In that case, you are also accepting the possibility of your own death. If the suspects say they did not care what happened to them, that is intent. But you still have to prove it.

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Why is it murder in this case? A feature of first degree murder is having malice aforethought, which means an intent to kill. This is what distinguishes it from voluntary manslaughter. An important element here is that the car was seen as being used as a deadly weapon.

I would agree with this assessment. But the car was a weapon which was not able to be controlled.

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This means, by using the car in this way, the suspects could not foresee if one or more bystanders would be in harm's way. It's different with a gun or a knife, which you can aim. You can't do that with a speeding car. Not with regard to the car being used as a weapon.

Alleged Street Race Driver Charged With Murder in Fatal Los Angeles Crash - ABC News

Cars have been viewed as a public danger in cases of targeted killing. But with regard to intent, yes. You have to prove that the suspects accepted the possibility of an accident. We will have to wait for the court's justification. According to press reports, the race was incredibly foolish and reckless, but that does not mean there was intent to murder. The defense said it will appeal the sentence. Do you think this sentence will be upheld on appeal?

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I don't think so. Assumption of intent is very difficult to substantiate and the ruling deviates from precedent. Carsten Momsen teaches criminal law, criminal procedural law, business law and environmental criminal law at Berlin's Free University. The perpetrators, both in their 20s, will face life imprisonment. Is a driver who races illegally and kills another through negligent action a murderer?

A current trial in Berlin is facing this very question. The victim, identified as year-old Adan Fabian Perez, a native of Guatemala who was employed at the track as a trainer's groom, was discovered by track security before dawn, at the back of a barn. To have access to Churchill Downs, workers have to be licensed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission -- which raises the question of whether the murder was committed by a track employee.

The barn was occupied by a Louisville trainer who reportedly did not have a horse running in the Derby.

KC STREET RACING with Big Chief, Murder Nova, Beater Bomb & More

The barn was just yards from the stall where winner, I'll Have Another, was stabled. The winner, who was not favored, took the race by a length and a half.


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The victim did not live where he was found, officials said.