gaveldecision.jpgA state appeals court has upheld the murder conviction of a Florida man who fatally punched a bystander who tried to stop him during an attempted robbery of a Toys “R” Us store in Pinole in 2007.

Marlon Blacher, 33, was convicted in Contra Costa County Superior Court in 2008 of the first-degree murder of Jose Segura Crus, 41, of San Pablo, and was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years to life in prison.

He was also convicted of two counts of attempted robbery and one count of burglary.

The convictions and sentence were unanimously upheld by a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeal in San Francisco on Tuesday.

According to the ruling, Blacher stole a Sony PlayStation from the store on the afternoon of July 7, 2007, and ran out of the building pursued by the cashier and security guards.

Crus, who had come to the store with his family to buy a stroller for his granddaughter, saw Blacher running through the parking lot and moved into his path and waved his arms to stop him. Blacher hit Crus in the face with a balled fist, causing Crus to fall to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.

The security guards reached Blacher moments later and pinned him to the ground until police arrived.

Crus was airlifted to a hospital and died four days later.

Blacher was convicted of murder under the state’s felony murder rule, under which a defendant can be liable for murder if a person is killed during the course of certain violent felonies, including robbery.

Robbery is defined as taking a person’s property by use of force or fear.

Blacher argued in his appeal that the rule shouldn’t apply because Crus was not a store employee and Blacher was therefore not attempting to take his property by use of force.

But a three-judge panel of the appeals court said the rule did apply because the attack on Crus showed that Blacher was willing to use force on anyone who tried to stop him, including the nearby store security guards who were chasing him.

Justice James Marchiano wrote, “What started out as a theft escalated into a violent confrontation and an attempted robbery as the defendant exhibited the force he would use against anyone who would prevent him from escaping with the PlayStation, including the pursuing store employees who were trying to stop him and reclaim the property.

“The jury could therefore convict defendant of felony murder on the prosecution’s attempted robbery theory.”

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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