Recently, a Memphis employer went from firing an employee to being charged with his death, all in one day. After firing the employee for not showing up to work, the employer later saw the employee trying to steal from him. Police say the employer then chased the employee down, and, after beating him repeatedly, the man died. The employer is now being charged with second degree murder.

The accused employer ran a home appliance repair shop out of his home. He told police that after firing the employee he later found the man trying to steal a shop vacuum, torch and a freon bottle from his garage. Authorities believe the employer then ran after the man, and after catching him, punched and kicked the man repeatedly. According to the medical examiner’s office, the employee died of major internal injuries after suffering blunt force trauma to his torso.

The employer was charged with second degree murder, not first degree murder. Readers in Memphis might be wondering what second degree murder is, and how it differs from first degree murder. While both crimes are for the killing of another person, they each have different elements. The biggest difference between the two is based off of the defendant’s mental state at the time of the murder.

First degree murder requires premeditation, where second degree murder does not. Premeditation is when the accused killer allegedly thinks ahead and plans out a murder, and then follows through with the plan.

Generally, there are three typical situations that can result in a second degree murder charge, such as:

•An impulse killing performed without premeditation, but with malice aforethought

•A killing that results from an attempt to do serious bodily harm

•A killing that occurs from a perpetrator’s action that demonstrates a depraved indifference to human life

Of course, another difference between first degree and second degree murder can be sentencing for those found guilty. While both can result in life imprisonment, first degree murder can result in the death penalty.

Source: WMC-TV, “Boss accused of beating employee to death,” Jamel Major, Oct. 25, 2012