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Howard realized that Beach matched Thomas' description of the woman who had met Grant at the truck stop, and the detectives asked her to give a formal statement. She still claimed she didn't know what had happened to Grant, and she made up an absurd story about leading him to 714 Homer and then getting hit on the head with a skillet. The detectives took her home.
They arrested her the next day, July 21, 2000. On the phone from the Wyandotte County Jail, she told her mother the whole story.
"I told her, 'Just tell the truth. Tell them what happened,'" her mother says. After that, Beach was ready to talk.
She gave police a full statement, which stayed consistent throughout her trial: Beach had known nothing of the plot to rob and murder Grant; she had gone into the house on Homer to get the drugs for Grant; she heard gunshots, and when she came out Arevalo was standing there with a gun telling her to get in the car and drive.
After she began cooperating, police hinted that she would be their star witness against Arevalo, Beach's mother says.
And Beach probably would have been the state's main witness -- if Arevalo, tipped off by a friend who worked at the Wyandotte County Court House, hadn't fled after learning that the district attorney's office had issued a warrant for his arrest. The clerk, Angelica Guerrero, was fired and charged with aiding a felon in August 2000. But that didn't help Beach, who had told police everything she knew without asking for an attorney.
She didn't know that she could be charged with a crime she didn't commit.
But under Kansas' felony murder law, a defendant can be charged with first-degree murder for any killing -- even if the defendant didn't kill anyone -- if the murder happened during the commission of a dangerous felony.
The law is designed to deter criminals from committing felonies, or at least from acting in a way that might lead to a death. But like Beach, many criminals don't know about the law, and opponents argue that it doesn't have much effect on crime. The statute dates back to English common law from the Elizabethan period of the 1500s, though England stopped enforcing it in 1957 because it was considered too harsh. Most states have a version of the law, though a few have abolished it. In Missouri, the law is slightly more lenient, classifying felony murder as second-degree murder.
Established by territorial government in 1855, Kansas' law states that murder in the first degree includes any killing that happens while the perpetrator is committing, attempting to commit or fleeing from any "inherently dangerous felony" -- that is, a felony during which a criminal could foresee that someone might be killed. Since the late 1990s, the list of inherently dangerous felonies has included kidnapping, robbery, rape, child abuse, arson, treason and endangering the food supply.
For example, it was enforced in May when a jury convicted a 22-year-old man for a second time for felony murder in the 1999 death of a Lenexa couple. (His first conviction was overturned because of improper jury instructions.) Benjamin L. Rogers was a teenager when he and two friends stole motorcycles from an Olathe dealership and, with police in pursuit, crashed their getaway truck into the couples' car.