Felon in Possession and Felony Murder

Thirteen-year-old Nathan Clark and his teammates traveled from Winston-Salem to Raleigh last Friday night to play in a weekend soccer tournament. The team never took the field.  As Clark slept in his hotel room Friday evening, a gun discharged in an adjacent room, sending a bullet through the wall and into the back of Clark’s head.  Clark died before he could be transported to the hospital.

The man in the room next door, Randall Louis Vater, was a convicted felon who was prohibited by law from possessing a gun. Vater had been out of jail only two weeks, having been released on October 25 after serving a sentence for violating a domestic violence protective order.  Vater was charged with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon based on Clark’s death. He is being held in the Wake County Jail under a $1 million bond.

Authorities have said nothing about how the gun went off. Assuming that the discharge was accidental, could Vater be charged with first-degree murder under the theory of felony murder?  

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