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Photo of Matt M. McClenahen
Photo of Matt M. McClenahen

Accomplice Liability Will Sink All Three Suspects in Mike Adams Stabbing

| Jun 4, 2013 | Accomplice Liability

Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams was attacked by three men on the South Side of Pittsburgh in a failed car jacking attempt in the early morning hours of June 1, 2013. The robbers failed to steal Adams’ truck, but one of the thugs stabbed him in the stomach and forearm before running off. Another one of the thugs pointed a handgun in Adams’ face, but fortunately, was wise enough not to pull the trigger and add a second degree murder charge to the list of serious felonies, which the suspects will be charged with when they are tracked down. Adams is expected to make a full recovery and is in good spirits.

The consequences for these three attackers will be severe once they are caught. Each of them is criminally responsible for the acts of the other two, by virtue of accomplice liability. The rule of accomplice liability holds each member of a criminal conspiracy liable for the actions of the co-conspirators perpetrated in furtherance of the criminal enterprise. All three can expect to be charged with aggravated assault, robbery, and criminal attempt of theft of a motor vehicle. A prosecutor could also make a strong argument for an attempted homicide charge, based on the stab wound to Adams’ abdomen. All three will also be charged with criminal conspiracy to commit each of these crimes, which effectively doubles the possible sentences they could receive.

There is a five year mandatory minimum sentence for visibly displaying a firearm during a crime of violence. This mandatory minimum will apply to all three defendants through accomplice liability. If the defendants receive consecutive, mandatory minimum sentences for aggravated assault and robbery, and criminal conspiracy to commit these two offenses, they could wind up with 20 to 40 year sentences.

Anyone who attempts to rob a 6’7″, 327 pound NFL offensive tackle knows no fear, even when taking into account that there were three robbers, and two of them were armed. Those who know no fear are the most dangerous members of society. Thus, I suspect that all three of these defendants have extensive prior records. Also, the “deadly weapons” enhancement elevates the standard range of sentencing pursuant to the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines. A bad prior record score, coupled with the deadly weapon enhancement, could result in an even harsher outcome than that contemplated by the five to ten year firearm mandatory minimum.

I doubt that the robbers are going to receive any sympathy from a judge, jury or prosecutor. About the only thing I can think of which would be more outrageous to a Pittsburgher than attacking a Steeler would have been attacking the late Fred Rogers.

Matt McClenahen is a Steelers fan and defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania. He limits his practice to criminal law.


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