I have successfully handled numerous murder jury trials, most involving violent gang murders. Murder is a type of homicide. Murder is classified as either murder in the first degree, which includes felony murder or murder in the second degree. Other types of homicide include voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
In California, murder is the killing of another with malice aforethought. Malice may be express or implied. Express malice is when an individual unlawfully intends to kill. Malice may be implied when 1) one committed an intentional act 2) the natural consequence of the act were dangerous to human life 3) at the time of the act he knew the act was dangerous to human life and 4) he deliberately acted with conscious disregard for human life. Malice does not require hatred or ill will towards another.
Felony murder is classified under Penal Code 189 in California. If an individual commits any one of certain enumerated felonies such as arson, rape, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, or drive-by shooting and someone is killed, that person can be charged with first degree murder and could possibly face the death penalty.
References: California Penal Code 187 and Washington, D.C. Code § 22-2101