Analyzing this clip from the movie
O Brother, Where Art Thou under Texas law, a savvy prosecutor would have enough to put everyone
(except the kidnapped boy) away for a very long time.
These three escapees are certainly guilty of
escaping custody. § 38.06 of the Texas Penal Code states that a person has committed
the offense of escape when a person in legal custody, pursuant to a lawful
order of the court, escapes from custody. This offense is further enhanced,
and is found to be a third degree felony, if the defendant has been charged
or convicted and confined for a felony and was confined in a secure correctional
facility for that felony.
Assuming that the Soggy Bottom Boys kill the color guard members to get
their clothes, they may be guilty of
capital murder in the state of Texas. Under Penal Code § 19.03 a person commits
the offense of capital murder when the person (1) murders a peace officer,
(2) intentionally commits murder in the course of committing other felonies,
(3) commits murder for remuneration, (4) the person commits murder while
escaping or attempting to escape from prison, (5) commits murder of an
employee of the penal institution while incarcerated, (6) person commits
murder while incarcerated, (7) murders more than one person, (8) murders
someone under the age of 6; or (9) murders in retaliation. In this clip,
they would have murdered three men falling under subsection 7. A savvy
prosecutor may also pursue that they committed murder while under custody
since they were convicted and incarcerated.
Turning to the klan members, under Article § 42.014 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure a crime committed against a person because of the defendant's
bias or prejudice against a group identified by race, color, disability,
religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender, or sexual preference
is considered a
hate crime. As the leader states in this scene, their goal is to dilute anyone that
is not their "color, creed, and our hometown religion." That
statement encompasses most of the requirements for a hate crime finding,
so we will assume that would an easy ace for the prosecution. As a condition
of punishment, a judge may require attendance in an educational program
due to this finding.
A person commits an offense of
aggravated kidnapping when he intentionally or knowingly abducts another person with the intent
to inflict bodily injury. This offense is a felony of the second degree.
V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 20.04. While we do not see the actual kidnapping
in this clip, it is clear that the boy does not wish to be with these
men and probably did not come willingly. And the klan members clearly
intend to inflict bodily harm upon him.
In the alternative to aggravated kidnapping a prosecutor may also pursue
unlawful restraint under Texas Penal Code § 20.02 that it is a crime
when a person intentionally or knowingly restrains another person. This
crime would be a felony of the third degree when the actor recklessly
exposes the victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury.
criminal homicide when he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes the death of an
individual. Because the klan was unsuccessful in their endeavor they would
probably be found guilty of attempted criminal homicide. A person commits
an offense of criminal attempt, when, with the specific intent to commit
an offense he does an act amounting to more than mere preparation but
fails to effect the commission of the offense. V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 19.01.
They may also be charged with organized crime and criminal conspiracy.
A person commits the offense of engaging in organized criminal activity
when a person, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate
in a combination, he commits or conspires to commit murder, capital murder,
arson, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, deadly conduct, assault (among
other crimes). V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 71.01. "Conspires to commit"
means that a person agrees with one or more persons that they or one or
more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense and that
person and one or more of them perform an overt act in pursuance of the
agreement. An agreement constituting conspiracy may be inferred from the
acts of the parties. An agreement could be inferred from the extremely
organized manner in which the klan members meets and act, some type of
agreement must have taken place to orchestrate such a meeting to hang someone.
The klan members may therefore be charged with aggravated kidnapping, unlawful
restraint, attempted murder with the presence of a hate crime, engaging
in organized crime, and conspiracy.
And let us not forget the final act of the escapees in throwing the flag
pole like a javelin and clipping the wire off the burning cross to fall
on members. They would likely be charged with attempted criminal homicide
for both acts as they intended their acts to kill some of the members
so they might get away.