Ryan Holle is serving life without parole in Florida, since 2004, because he loaned out his car to one of his friends who used the car to commit a burglary. The men involved in the burglary murdered 18 year old Jessica Snyder during the commission of the crime. They had gone to a local weed dealer’s home to steal marijuana and money from a safe. As a result, the law allowed the prosecutor to charge Ryan – who was not present at the burglary and had no way of knowing a murder was going to occur since it was not a planned event – with felony murder.
The night before the burglary and murder, Ryan had a party at his residence. Those who attended had been drinking late into the night. Ryan went to bed around 5 a.m. and was sleeping when he was approached by his roommate about borrowing his vehicle to rob the safe. He was still intoxicated from the night before. Ryan had loaned his car out previously and did not believe that the men would go through with the robbery. He certainly did not know that a murder would result. Upon giving his roommate the keys to his car he went to sleep.
The felony murder doctrine, which exists in some capacity in the majority of states, maintains that if a death occurs during the commission of a felony (such as burglary), the state may prosecute anyone who has involvement in the felony. This is regardless of the degree of participation. Even though Ryan was at home sleeping when the crimes occurred, his act of loaning out his car (something he had done before without incident) was enough to allow the prosecutor to charge him as though he committed a first degree murder.
Ryan Holle is currently serving his time in the Graceville Correctional Facility in Graceville, Florida. Without intervention, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Ryan’s conviction is a travesty of justice. The felony murder rule is an outdated, archaic doctrine that allows prosecutors to abuse their power and charge people in excess of their true culpability. Ryan’s case is an example of why this law is unjust and it shows precisely why it is unconstitutional.
To date, three states have abolished the felony murder rule completely.
Even if one believes that Ryan should have been punished for loaning his car out while intoxicated to individuals who expressed an intent to steal from a local drug dealer, the majority of reasonable people would agree that a sentence in excess of the one he has already served is unjust. It is not appropriate to hold him accountable to the same extent as those who brutally murdered Jessica Snyder because he was not present when she was killed and he did not know she was going to be murdered.
Ryan was arrested in 2003. He has been incarcerated since that time.
Please read through this site to learn more about this unjust law and the ways in which you may help Ryan and others like him. A detailed story about Ryan and his experiences is here.