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Reading Comprehension & Vocabulary Practice 

Contributed by Maria Rosita Barone in September 2003

(Spelling & Grammar Corrections have been made by Bibi Baxter where appropriate)

THE CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE

SPECIAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ARTICLE WHICH HAS BEEN USED FOR THESE EXERCISES

  • Article Title:  Life In Prison:  Felony Murder

  • Article Source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/29/60II/main538407.shtml

  • Copyright /Copyright Details:  ꠠ MMIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Reporter:  Dan Rather

  • Article Date::  29th January, 2003

  • Photos:  Photos of Dan Rather, Brandon, Hein & Jason Holland are available on the CBS website

Bibi's Comment:  In Britain, the crime to which this article refers, was known as: "Being An Accessory After The Fact" .  'Felony' is an American word, meaning 'crime'

Maria Barone says:  I copied the article from the Internet. The activities and exercises are mine.  There aren't many reading comprehension articles on law (I mean ready-made worksheets for teachers). I found your site some months ago and decided to send one of them. It isn't easy to prepare them!  At the moment, I'm writing a workbook For Intermediate Law students on grammar topics, but using law language to prepare them for the advanced level where they will have to deal with a more difficult language. 
I teach English at the
'Universit࠼span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; mso-fareast-font-family: Times New Roman; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">del Sannio in Benevento'  .   I'm not the professor of the course, but the training teacher. I'd be delighted if you publish the article!  (Submitted in  September 2003)
Vocabulary list:
  • to stab = to injure with a sharp, pointed instrument   

  • lagging behind: = following very slowly              

  • argument = quarrel          

  • to step in = to involve oneself

  • truck = lorry

  • fray = noisy & chaotic struggle  

  • to hammer : to beat with energy                    

  • suit = civil and legal proceedings

  • to charge under a certain law = to formally accuse according to certain jurisdiction
  • to occur with: to take place  
  • to pull the trigger: to activate and project
  • to come up: to meet

Life In Prison: Felony Murder

In California, three young men are serving life in prison. They were all found guilty of murder even though only one them actually did the killing and the other two swear they didn't even know he had a weapon let alone that he would kill somebody.  How does that happen? It's the law. The felony murder rule law - but this old law is under new attack - as well as being vigorously defended - because of cases like Brandon Hein - a teenager who went looking for marijuana and ended up in prison for life.  The felony murder law, which goes all the way back to old English law, treats people who are guilty of lesser crimes as murderers if they are with murderers when the murder occurs, reports Dan Rather. 

Hein was 17 in 1995 when he and some teenage friends got into in a fistfight. One of those friends pulled out a knifeended up killing another teenager. All four are now serving life sentences.  It began on the kind of day dreaded by parents of troubled teenagers. Five of the boys were drinking alcohol and driving around their mostly safe suburbs near Los Angeles.  In the afternoon, they stopped in a parking lot. One of them grabbed a wallet, which turned out to be empty, from inside a car. The owner, a mother playing nearby with her two kids, cornered them and demanded her wallet returned. Another boy cursed at her and allegedly hit her car.

The five drove off 䨩s time to find some marijuana. They went to the home of the neighborhood drug dealer ᮯther high school teenager named Mike McLoren, who sold marijuana from a one-room structure in his motherࢡckyard. McLorenলiend and neighbor, 15-year old Jimmy Farris, was with him that day.  One of the teens stayed with the pickup trick; the others, including Hein, Jason Holland, 18, and his 15-year-old brother Micah, approached Mike McLoren೨ed, which was called "the fort."  Jason Holland says he was drunk and lagging behind the others and he did not see how the argument between McLoren and his brother started.

頴he time I get in there,襠says 䥰 into the door, he and Mike McLoren are standing, like, face to face, you know, and, you know, there was clearly a problem there.  襹 were already in a argument, you know. But there was no words being exchanged by the time I got in there. Immediately when I got in there, I stepped in there, they just dropped their heads and started fighting.p; Brandon Hein jumped into the fray; so did Jason, who says he was trying to protect his brother Micah from the bigger and stronger McLoren.

髥 McLoren was on top of my brother,ꡳon says, 咳 hammering him in the back of the neck, and I'm telling him to get off him, get off him. You know, I'm trying to pull him off of him. I'm hitting him, I'm yelling at him. He's not listening, so I pulled a knife and I stabbed him.  津r two times of pricking him in the back and he wasn't getting off my brother, I stabbed him in the chest.ᦴer stabbing McLoren,  Jason stabbed McLorenলiend Jimmy Farris. McLoren survived; Farris did not.

Mike Latin and Jeff Semow, the two Los Angeles deputy district attorneys who prosecuted the case, charged each teen under the felony murder rule under the theory that they went to the place where the murder occurred with the intention of robbing the victims.  ৵arantee you this,㡹s Latin. 衴 stabber would not have been there if he didn't have the bravado that the accompaniment of the other four young boys gave him. He wouldn't have been there.p; Semow says the rule is designed as a warning to those who would participate in gang robberies. 襹 are not going to be able to hide behind the defense of saying, 崠the other guy actually pulled the trigger,馬 in fact, the victim is killed,襠says.

For the felony murder rule to apply, prosecutors had to prove that a felony occurred. Without that, the felony murder rule could not apply.  All the defendants deny intending to rob the marijuana: 﩮g there to buy some weed,㡹s Jason Holland. 堷ere just partying, having a good time.p; But the jury did not believe him. Instead, jurors were convinced the snatching of the mother෡llet earlier in the day indicated they also plotted to rob drug dealer Mike McLoren.

The teenagers桭ilies were stunned when they heard the verdicts and the sentences: Jason Holland and Brandon Hein were convicted of murder and got life without the possibility of parole. Micah was convicted of murder and got 29 years to life.

The fourth defendant, Anthony Miliotti, 17, got life without the possibility of parole even though he stood at the door and never got into the fight. The fifth teen, who stayed with the truck, pled guilty and was sentenced to nine years.

Brandonడrents, Gene Hein and Pat Kraetch say their son is being punished for something he did not do. यn't know over the years how many people have come up to me now, adults, who have gotten past that scary 18- to 25-year-old age and said, 崠for the grace of God, it could have been me,ೡys his mother. 
Jeff Laden speaks for the group when he charges that their boys were punished not for what they did but for who was killed: the son of a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department.  䧳 about a police officer's son who died. And the only way they could convict all these kids was use the Felony Murder Rule,졤en says.

Donഥll that to Jimmy Farrisడrents. Jim Farris, his father, says, 襠fact that I'm a policeman has nothing to do with anything. I just happen to be a policeman whose son was murdered. That's it.Ⲿ
Jimmy୯ther, Judy, asks, ﷠much is too much time for killing someone? For taking away and changing our lives completely, forever?Ⲿ As for Jimmy Ferrisলiend, Mike McLoren, he was never prosecuted for selling drugs. He still lives at home. When 60 Minutes II visited, he refused to speak with correspondents or crew.

No one feels worse about the punishment of the others than Jason Holland. ऩdn't try to kill him, I didn't mean to kill him,襠says. 崍 he died. I can't give it back, but I took responsibility for it. I thought that was the right thing to do, and I thought that they would do the right thing, but they didn't.  They came after us. And they got my brother and my two buddies. And we're all doing life now. And they're doing life for something they didn't do.Ⲿ
England, where the felony rule began (and was known as "being an accessory after the fact"), took it off the books in 1957, believing it is wrong to punish someone who intends to rob as severely as someone who intends to kill. Many states have followed suit; California is not one of them.

퍉II, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

Exercise-1:  READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

  1)   Why are three young men serving life in prison? 

充充充充充充充充羚nt>

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 2)    What is the law called in this case?

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充充充充充充充充㰡n style="mso-ansi-language:EN-GB"> 

3)      What does Don Rather  report?

充充充充充充充充羚nt>

充充充充充充充充㰡n style="mso-ansi-language:EN-GB">   

4)      How did the story start?

充充充充充充充充羚nt>

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5)  What was the next action of the group?  

充充充充充充充充羚nt>

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6)  How did the furious fight start?  

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7) Who was killed?  

充充充充充充充充羚nt>

充充充充充充充充p;

8) Who was the killer and what did the others do?  

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9) What did the district attorney think?  

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10)  What did their parents think the boys were punished for?  

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11)   Does the felony law exist in England?  

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充充充充充充充充羚nt>

The Answer Key

Exercise-2:  VOCABULARY PRACTICE

Multiple Choice:  Tick the right answer of the words according to the meaning of the text

Felony murder
a) genocide
b) suicide
c) premeditated killing
 
To grab
a)  to take by force
b)  to steal
c)  to possess
 
Drug dealer
a)  an addict
b)  a person engaged in drug sales
c)  a person who knows where to find the drug
 
To stab
a) to murder
b) to rape
c) to injure with a sharp, pointed instrument
Attorney
a) a lawyer to represent in court a part to a legal action
b) a detective
c) a judge
 
Verdict
a)   conclusion of a court case
b)   police investigation
c)   sworn evidence
 
Parole
a)   the release of a convicted criminal  after completion of a sentence
b)   many words together
c)   the release of a convicted criminal  during completion of a sentence 

 

The Answer Key

Exercise-3: VOCABULARY:  OPPOSITES

Choose a word with an opposite meaning from the box below

1)      guilty            ......................
2)      vigorous       ......................
3)      troubled       ......................
4)      safe             ......................
5)      empty         ......................
6)      strong         ......................
7)      wrong         ......................
8)      scary          ......................
  • right
  • carefree
  • frail
  • unalarming
  • innocent
  • weak
  • full
  • unsafe

The Answer Key

Exercise-4: GRAMMAR:  PREPOSITIONS

Put  in the correct preposition

1)      The young men were found guilty 堭urder
2)      They robbed a woman宠a parking lot
3)      充. fighting, they didn튠 exchange any words
4)      Jason Holland was 充 the others
5)      This old law is 兠attack
6)      The four defendants got life 充 the possibility of parole
7)      He was sentenced 堮ine years

The Answer Key

Exercise-5:  GRAMMAR: RELATIVE PRONOUNS

  • Which (line 6) refers to ....................................

  • Who (line 6) refers to .......................................

  • Which (line 12) refers to ...................................

  • Who (line 16) refers to ........................................................

  • Who  (line 33) refers to ........................................................

The Answer Key

Exercise-6:  VOCABULARY:  WORD-FAMILIES

PERSON

NOUN

ADJECTIVE

VERB + CONSTRUCTION OR PHRASE

ADVERB

killer

       

criminal

       

(lawyer)

law

     

robber

       

fighter

       

arguer

       

convict

       

murderer

       

The Answer Key

THE ANSWER KEY

Exercise-1: 

1) They are in prison, because they killed a teenager

2) Felony Murder

3) Dan Rather explains that if a murder is committed and you are present in the place where the murder is committed, you are also guilty of murder - even if you didn튠 kill anyone.

4) The story started  one afternoon, when five boys, who had been drinking were driving around .

5) First they parked and stole a wallet, then they went to a friendਯuse to look for some marijuana.

6) The furious fighting started with an argument. Jason tried to help his brother who was fighting with Mc Loren. Brandon Hein started fighting as well. Jason wanted to save his brother. He took his knife and injured Mc Loren, then he stabbed Mc Lorenলiend.

7) Farris, McLoren লiend.

8)The killer was Jason .The others were only present when the murder occurred

9) They thought that the group intended to steal the marijuana; moreover that the group had actually planned beforehand.  Felony murder law is applied when there is an intention of robbery

10) The parents are sure that their boys were punished, because the boy, who had been killed, was the son of a Los Angeles policeman

11) It no longer exists in England.  It originated from England, as 'being an accessory after the fact,' but was taken off the Statute Books in 1957.

Exercise-2:    c; a; b; c; a;  a; a
Exercise-3:   
  • Guilty/innocent
  • Vigorous/weak  
  • Troubled/carefree 
  •  Safe/unsafe
  • Empty/full
  • Strong/weak/frail 
  • Wrong/right 
  • Scary/unalarming   (NOTE: scared/unafraid)

Exercise-4:       of; in ; before ; with ; under ; without; to

Exercise-5:   
  • Which (line 6) refers to the felony murder law

  • Who (line 6) refers to people

  • Which (line 12) refers to the wallet

  • Who (line 16) refers to Mike Mcloren

  • Who  (line 33) refers to the district attorneys

Exercise-6:   

PERSON

NOUN

ADJECTIVE

VERB + CONSTRUCTION OR PHRASE

ADVERB

killer

killing

killing/killed

to kill s.o. or s.t.

-

criminal

crime

criminal

(to commit a crime)

criminally

(lawyer)

law

lawful

to introduce a new law

lawfully

robber

robbery

robbing/robbed

rob

-

fighter

fight

fighting

fight

-

arguer

argument

arguable/argumentative

argue

arguably

convict

conviction

convicted

to convict s.o.

-

murderer

murder

murderous

to murder s.o.

murderously

 

DO YOU HAVE A SUITABLE LESSON FOR PUBLICATION ON THIS WEBSITE?

If so, please complete the following procedure before submission:

  • Clearly mark the exercises (1,2,3, etc) 

  • Provide clear instructions in short sentences.

  • Provide an answer key for each exercise

  • Proof-read everything before submission.

  • Errors will only be corrected by Bibi if they are genuine grammar or vocabulary errors.  

  • Work containing careless errors will not be considered.

 
 
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