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Murder Charges in Car Crash that Killed Nun

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By Kamika Dunlap on June 28, 2010 12:41 PM

Sister Mary Celine Graham now answers to a higher law after she was struck and killed recently by a speeding getaway car, but the two robbery suspects responsible for her death are facing criminal charges.

William Robbins, 18, and Dyson Williams, 20, face second-degree murder and robbery charges, the CBS News reports.

In general, second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as:

  • an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" or
  • a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life. Second-degree murder may best be viewed as the middle ground between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.

As previously discussed, the hit and run crash happened after a robbery. When police tried to make the bust, the getaway vehicle sped off and careened down a couple blocks before it collided with another vehicle, spun off, and struck four innocent bystanders -- one of them Sister Mary Celine Graham. She died at the hospital, just blocks away from convent of the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary in Harlem where she lived. Sister Graham belonged to one of only three historically black orders of Roman Catholic nuns in the United States.

The two men have been charged with felony murder under a provision in state law in which a person can be charged with murder if someone else is killed during the commission of a separate felony. In this case the felony is robbery as the suspects were making their getaway after stealing a BlackBerry and $23 from an 18-year-old.

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