1. Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.

How Lending A Friend Your Car, Then Going to Bed Can Land You a Life Prison Sentence

  1. Rob Cypher
    Several years ago I read a piece in The New York Times by Adam Liptak about Ryan Holle. Ryan, who had no prior record, is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole in Florida. He was convicted of pre-meditated murder, even though no one, including the prosecutor, disputes that Ryan was asleep in his bed at home at the time of the crime.

    This could only happen in America, because we are the only country that retains the Felony Murder Rule. What the Felony Murder Rule essentially says is if anyone has anything to do with a felony in which a murder takes place, such as a robbery, that person is as guilty as the person who has committed the murder. Every other country including England, India and Canada has gotten rid of it because of its unintended consequences. In America, Michigan, Kentucky and Hawaii no longer have the law. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled, when they discarded the Felony Murder Rule, that a person should be held responsible for his own actions not the actions of others.

    Exactly what did Ryan Holle do? At a party in his apartment over ten years ago, he lent his car to his roommate and went to sleep. He had lent his car to his roommate many times before with no negative consequences. This time the roommate and others went to a house where they knew a woman was selling marijuana from a safe. They planned to get the marijuana, but in the course of their break-in a teenage girl was killed. Those at the scene all received appropriately harsh sentences, but so did Ryan Holle. I got involved with the case shortly after I read Adam Liptak’s piece. I have been advocating on behalf of clemency for Ryan, who was first offered a plea deal of ten years but chose to go to trial. I’m sure it was difficult for a young man, who had never been arrested, and who believed he had done nothing to accept that he should go to prison for ten years, so he went to trial, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. He is now in his eleventh year of incarceration. Again, this is a young man who was home asleep in bed at the time of the crime. I personally know of no other felony murder conviction where the person was not even present, and the pre-meditated part of the conviction suggests that Ryan knew his car was going to be used in the course of a murder, which to me, isn’t credible. To the best of my knowledge, in the entire history of the criminal justice system in America, no one has ever been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for loaning a car and going to sleep.

    A few years ago I was on a television show with the father of the girl who was murdered in the robbery attempt. The father felt that it was entirely justified that Ryan Holle spend his life in prison. At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to say what I was feeling. I felt the father and mother were a lot more responsible for their daughter’s death than Ryan Holle. The mother did actually serve three years in prison for selling drugs, but both parents in no way should have been involved in selling drugs from their house. It would only be a question of time before the wrong person knocked on the door. In my judgment, parents who would do that with two teenage daughters at home have a lot more responsibility for this tragedy than Ryan Holle.

    Ryan writes me from prison telling me that when he gets out, he plans to speak out against the Felony Murder Rule. Unless people of good will and common sense publicize his case, Ryan Holle will die in prison.

    Note: Since writing the above, I have been told that Ryan was just denied clemency.

    Charles Grodin
    The Nation
    April 9, 2014



  1. Phenoxide
    Re: How Lending A Friend Your Car, Then Going to Bed Can Land You a Life Prison Sente

    Very strange application of the law. I could understand a charge relating to conspiracy to commit burglary, but pre-meditated murder is totally irrational. This quote from a NY Times article on the case from 2007 sums up the simplistic logic here:

    So why didn't the car salesman also stand trial and get a life sentence? No car, no consequences.
  2. ZenobiaSky
    Re: How Lending A Friend Your Car, Then Going to Bed Can Land You a Life Prison Sente

    This is just insane, as I am reading this I'm thinking about the fact that I'm laying in bed reading this, while a friend of mine has borrowed my car. To think that loaning your car out could result in such outrageous charges just seems very wrong to me.
  3. Basoodler
    Re: How Lending A Friend Your Car, Then Going to Bed Can Land You a Life Prison Sente

    I wonder what this guys background looks like?

    I hate reading stories like this, for one it is a bullshit application of the criminal justice system, for two the writer of the story did a shitty job.

    I also feel bad for the guy who is stuck in prison for lending his car.. Even though there is a lack of pretext of what led a jury to this this oddball outcome. In new york no less.. Texas, utah or oklahoma maybe.

    The case also is for all intents and purposes a robbery / murder, and no a drug case in the way the author presented it. Unless this was a case where this weed was previously stolen from the men committing the robbery and Mr. holle was ordering its recovery.

    I mean did this guy draw a map to the house and a plan for his buddies? premeditation was apparently established in a compelling way in order to sway the judge and jury to apply it. The author of this story touches on this with his one line opinion that he doesnt agree with how it was established, but does not offer the context of the claim.

    Ugh, damn you Charles Grodin of "The Nation"! now i have to look up details that should have been disclosed.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!