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What is homicide? This explains homicide vs murder in Texas

With few details available from Temple police about Michael Dean's shooting death many are asking why there's no murder charge.
Credit: Lea Wilson- 6 News

TEMPLE, Texas — After Temple Police Officer Carmen DeCruz shot 28-year-old Michael Dean in his head and killed him on Dec. 2, many questioned why investigators called the killing a homicide instead of murder. So, 6 News set out to clarify.

While details about the circumstances surrounding Dean’s death have not been revealed, here's a breakdown of what homicide is and what murder means in Texas:

Simply put, Webster’s Dictionary defines homicide as "the killing of one human being by another."

Criminal homicide, however, is determined by the court following the conclusion of an investigation. We want to be clear, the investigation into Dean’s shooting death has not been concluded and no criminal act has been determined.

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For murder to come into play, the investigation has to conclude that a criminal act was committed. There are four types of criminal homicide in Texas:

• Criminal homicide is charged as manslaughter when a person "recklessly causes the death of another individual," according to the Texas penal code. The charge is a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. A prosecutor does not have to prove intent or premeditation to earn a manslaughter conviction.

• There are different ways to commit capital murder. Capital murder is committed when a person kills a fireman or member of law enforcement, or if a person intentionally kills someone while committing arson, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, terroristic threat, obstruction or retaliation, or sexual assault. Capital murder is a capital felony.

• Manslaughter is a lesser charge than murder, which is a first-degree felony. According to the penal code, murder is committed when a person "intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual," or "intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual."

• Manslaughter is a stiffer charge than criminally negligent homicide, a state jail felony that is committed when a person "causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence," according to the penal code.

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