In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a tragic incident has unfolded, capturing the attention of both local residents and legal scholars alike. Ethan Nicholas Bastien, 21, of Allentown, has been charged with criminal homicide in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Sian Cartagena. The incident occurred on October 2, and Cartagena succumbed to her injuries two days later​​​​​​.

Legal Commentary: The case of Bastien and Cartagena brings to the fore the complexities of homicide laws and their implications in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania law recognizes several degrees of homicide, each with its own criteria and penalties. First-degree murder, considered the most serious, involves intentional killing committed with premeditation and malice. Second-degree murder is defined as a killing committed during the perpetration of a felony, and third-degree murder serves as a catch-all category for other types of murder not fitting the first or second degree. Involuntary manslaughter, where the defendant causes death without intent, and voluntary manslaughter, where the defendant kills another person in the heat of passion or in response to provocation, are also recognized under Pennsylvania law​​.

This case may also draw comparisons to the broader discussions around Pennsylvania’s felony-murder law and life without parole (LWOP) sentences. The state's felony-murder rule implies that if a death occurs while a felony is being committed, participants can be charged with murder, regardless of their direct role or intent. Notably, a felony-murder conviction in Pennsylvania carries a mandatory LWOP sentence. This has been a subject of legal debate, with arguments challenging the constitutionality of LWOP as “death-by-incarceration” and questioning the state's authority to deny parole eligibility in such cases​​​​​​.

These laws and ongoing legal challenges underscore the complexities of the criminal justice system, particularly in cases involving young adults. The case of Ethan Bastien and Sian Cartagena, set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania’s stringent homicide laws, offers a poignant example of the gravity and consequences of such legal matters.

Get Your Free Consultation


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.