What is Second-Degree Murder in Tennessee?

Five former police officers have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyre Nichols, who died on January 10, three days after a brutal beating during a “traffic stop.”

Here’s what to know about the legal definition of second-degree murder in the state of Tennessee, and the potential penalties it carries.

According to Tennessee state statute, second-degree murder is classified as “a knowing killing of another; or a killing of another that results from the unlawful distribution of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug, when the drug is the proximate cause of the death of the user.”

The statute continues: “In a prosecution for a violation of this section, if the defendant knowingly engages in multiple incidents of domestic abuse, assault or the infliction of bodily injury against a single victim, the trier of fact may infer that the defendant was aware that the cumulative effect of the conduct was reasonably certain to result in the death of the victim, regardless of whether any single incident would have resulted in the death.”

The Penalties

A conviction for second-degree murder in Tennessee can result in 15 to 60 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $50,000.

If convicted, the sentence for the five officers could be even more severe, given the added charges of aggravated assault-acting in concert, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.

From the Commercial Appeal, a daily Memphis publication

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