A California woman has been charged with first degree murder after she killed a man by ramming his car after he accused him of trying to run over a cat in the street.
Hannah Star Esser, 20, has been charged with murder in the death of Victor Anthony Luis, 43, and is being held on $1 million bond, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Authorities said Esser was driving in the community of Cypress on Sunday night when she confronted Luis and accused him of trying to run over a cat. Esser eventually returned to her vehicle while arguing with Victor, turned around, and drove straight at him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
There are three murder charges in California: first degree murder, second degree murder and capital murder. First degree murder in California is defined as premeditated premeditated murder. The penalty in California for first degree murder is 25 years to life in prison.
Second degree murder requires malice and intent; however, it does not require premeditation or pre-crime deliberation. Essentially, second degree murder in California is any murder that is not first degree murder, felony murder, or capital murder. The penalty in California for second degree murder is 15 years to life in prison.
Capital Murder is “murder under special circumstances”. The penalty for capital murder can be life in prison without parole or capital punishment in California.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Esser’s actions showed “complete disregard for human life,” hence the first-degree murder charge. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will ensure that this random act of violence targeting a stranger is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, told the outlet it was not “immediately clear if a cat was involved.”