murder,n. The killing of a human being with malice aforethought. • At common law, the crime of murder was not subdivided, but many state statutes have adopted the degree structure outlined below, though the Model Penal Code has not. Model Penal Code § 210.2. See MALICE AFORETHOUGHT. Cf. MANSLAUGHTER. [Cases: Homicide 520.] — murder,vb. — murderous,adj.

“The word ‘murder’ has … had a devious history. Its original sense is the particularly heinous crime of secret slaying. After the conquest it was observed that Normans were frequently found dead under mysterious circumstances, and so William I enacted that if anyone were found slain and the slayer were not caught, then the hundred should pay a fine; this fine is a murdrum. The practice soon grew up to taking inquests and if it were presented that the dead man was English,

then the fine was not due. In 1267 it was enacted that accidental deaths should not give rise to murdrum, and finally in 1340 presentment of Englishry and murdrum were abolished. Henceforth the word slowly tends to get linked up with ‘malice aforethought’ and so we get the classical formulae describing the crime of murder.” Theodore F.T. Plucknett, A Concise History of the Common Law 445 (5th ed. 1956).

depraved-heart murder.A murder resulting from an act so reckless and careless of the safety of others that it demonstrates the perpetrator’s complete lack of regard for human life. [Cases:

Homicide 533.]

felony murder.Murder that occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony (often limited to rape, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, and arson). — Also termed (in English law) constructive murder. See FELONY-MURDER RULE. [Cases: Homicide 580.]

first-degree murder.Murder that is willful, deliberate, or premeditated, or that is committed during the course of another dangerous felony. • All murder perpetrated by poisoning or by lying in wait is considered first-degree murder. All types of murder not involving willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing are usu. considered second-degree murder. — Also termed murder of the first degree; murder one. [Cases: Homicide 539.]

mass murder.A murderous act or series of acts by which a criminal kills many victims at or

near the same time, usu. as part of one act or plan. Cf. serial murder.

murder by torture.A murder preceded by the intentional infliction of pain and suffering on the


“In some jurisdictions, a murder by torture may constitute murder in the first degree. It occurs when a defendant intentionally inflicts pain and suffering upon his victim for the purpose of revenge, extortion, or persuasion.” 2 Charles E. Torcia, Wharton’s Criminal Law § 144, at 281 (15th ed. 1994).

murder of the first degree.See first-degree murder.

murder of the second degree.See second-degree murder. murder of the third degree.See third-degree murder.

murder one.See first-degree murder. murder three.See third-degree murder. murder two.See second-degree murder.

second-degree murder.Murder that is not aggravated by any of the circumstances of

first-degree murder. — Also termed murder of the second degree; murder two. [Cases: Homicide


serial murder.A murder in which a criminal kills one of many victims over time, often as part of a pattern in which the criminal targets victims who have some similar characteristics. Cf. mass murder.


third-degree murder.A wrong that did not constitute murder at common law. • Only a few states have added to their murder statutes a third degree of murder. The other states classify all murders in two degrees. Manslaughter is not a degree of the crime of murder, but instead is a distinct offense. — Also termed murder of the third degree; murder three. [Cases: Homicide


willful murder.The unlawful and intentional killing of another without excuse or mitigating


[Blacks Law 8th]