In Missouri, felony murder is listed as a subsection in the state’s second degree murder statute (MO Rev. Stat. § 565.021).

In Missouri, prosecutors can charge and convict any person of second degree murder without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death. Prosecutors must only prove that a person or an accomplice committed another specified felony and that a death occurred “in the perpetration or the attempted perpetration of such felony or in the flight from the perpetration or attempted perpetration of such felony.” Prosecutors can convict someone of murder even when the death was caused by a third non-party (i.e. neither the person nor their accomplice). There is no possibility in Missouri for a person charged with felony murder to raise an affirmative defense–i.e. that he or she acted under duress, that they weren’t armed and had no reason to believe another participant was armed or intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death.

A conviction for felony murder in Missouri carries a sentence of 10 years minimum and 30 years maximum, in addition to the sentence for the underlying felony.

Analysis: Race

Race and Conviction Rate

In Missouri, you are 9.136 times more likely to be incarcerated for felony murder if you are Black than if you are white.

Black 9.136x

Disproportionate Representation

While Black individuals account for only 11% of Missouri’s population


they make up 33% of all incarcerated people


and 56% of those incarcerated for felony murder.


In terms of gender, women make up 11.28% of felony murder convictions.

In St. Louis City and St. Louis County counties, the overwhelming majority of those convicted of felony murder are Black.

  • 93.48%

    of those convicted of felony murder are Black in St. Louis County.

  • 100%

    Every single person convicted of felony murder is Black in St. Louis City.

Analysis: Harsh Sentences

In total, there are 266 persons incarcerated for felony murder in Missouri (comprising 7.64% of all murder convictions). Of these individuals, 38 are sentenced to life in prison.

The remaining 228 persons are sentenced to a cumulative

4,703 years in prison

For those not serving life sentences, the median number of years in prison they were sentenced to is 20 years.

Analysis: Youthful Impact

Young people in Missouri are disproportionately impacted by felony murder.

  • 32

    Median age at offense for all crimes

  • 25

    Median age at offense for felony murder

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 5.0 / 5 (A)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
Financial Accessibility
No Residency Required
Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

We created our dataset by examining Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) and data from the State Judicial Records Committee (SJRC). We obtained the MDOC data through the state’s public Sunshine Law dataset and the SJRC data were obtained through a public records request submitted by Elena DeBre, of the Yale Investigative Reporting Lab. Felony murder was identified in the SJRC data by all those whose top conviction charge was “Murder 2d Deg-Felony Mur.” These individuals were then matched to their corresponding records in the MDOC data. All persons convicted of felony murder in the SJRC data had a matching record in the correctional data. This analysis covers all those charged with felony murder between 2010 to 2021.

Additional data from the State Judicial Records Committee was obtained by Thomas Birmingham of the Yale Investigative Reporting Lab. This data consists of a spreadsheet of felony murder cases that we used to count how many cases occurred within different counties.
This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder between 2000-2021.

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Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.

This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder between 2000-2021.