Two of the defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case were convicted of felony murder.
The concept of felony murder has a long and consistent history in this country. It is also one of the first criminal law concepts taught in law school. Simply stated, you do not need to be the person pulling the trigger in order to be convicted of murder. The fact that a felony was committed during the time surrounding the murder is enough for the conviction.
One of the classic examples of felony murder is the driver of the getaway car during a bank robbery where a person was killed. The rationale for the rule is that all people involved in the planning and execution of a felony are responsible for everything that results from that felony.
Although the rule has been criticized in the past as being unduly harsh, it ensures that nobody is excused from egregious and horrible conduct. The rule also has the deterrent effect of discouraging others from following along with conduct they should have known was improper.