Three young people have been charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a Krystal employee in Decatur, The Huntsville Times is reporting.

Recently, authorities arrested two people — a 22-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man — a day after arresting a 21-year-old man. All three are charged with two counts of capital murder.

Murder charges in Alabama are the most serious a person can face They can lead to decades or life in prison, or possibly the death penalty. For this reason, murder cases should only be handled by the most aggressive and experienced Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyers. The severity of the penalties requires that the defendant get the highest quality representation possible. Alabama is one of 34 states where the death penalty is applicable in murder cases.

Police believe the three conspired to rob the restaurant and gunned down the night manager, a 50-year-old man, as well as a 23-year-old employee. Authorities allege the woman drove the getaway vehicle.

Both victims were shot with a 9mm pistol; the night manager found behind the counter and the slain employee found in a walk-in cooler. The restaurant’s lobby is open until midnight, but the restaurant is open 24 hours and offers service through its drive-thru. The last order that night was placed at 3 a.m. and an employee found the bodies around 5 a.m., the newspaper reports.

One might wonder how three people could all be charged with murder when all three couldn’t have pulled the trigger to inflict the fatal wounds. But in Alabama, a person can be charged with murder even if they didn’t, personally, kill someone. If people work together to commit a crime and someone dies during the crime — even if it’s one of the co-defendants — all the defendants who conspired together can be charged with murder.

In this case, police have charged them all with capital murder, meaning they could be eligible for the death penalty. But an arrest on its face isn’t proof that a crime was committed. Prosecutors must convince a jury that the defendants are guilty, beyond all reasonable doubt.

In murder cases, the state must show that a suspect either killed a person by premeditation, meaning they planned it out, or while committing another felony at the time of the killing. In this case, the state may argue the defendants were committing a robbery (the felony) when the killings happened. The news article doesn’t present any evidence they planned to kill the workers ahead of time.

If defendants face a capital murder charge, they are eligible for the death penalty. And a disturbing report by the Equal Justice Initiative in July found that Alabama is the only state of the 34 that carry the death penalty where judges routinely override jury verdicts — thereby changing life in prison recommendations to the death penalty, the Press-Register reported.

When a person’s life is at stake and they have the state bearing down on them, seeking to kill them legally, they must have an experienced Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney on their side who can challenge all evidence, poke holes in the state’s case and fight the charges as aggressively as possible.

More Blog Entries:

Casey Anthony Case Shows Why Strong Murder Defense In Birmingham is Critical: July 15, 2011

Montgomery Shooting Turns Fatal; Alabama Murder Cases Require Aggressive Defense: June 15, 2011

Additional Resources:

Decatur police charge 2 more with capital murder in fatal Krystal shooting, by Victoria Cumbow, The Huntsville Times