Under the felony murder rule, a person can be found guilty of first-degree murder if the victim dies during the commission of a felony, such as arson.
North Carolina allows death sentences for felony murder.
The legislation was prompted by Janet Danahey's sentence of life without parole for setting a fire at a Greensboro apartment complex. Danahey pleaded guilty after prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty.
The fire at the Campus Walk Apartments killed Elizabeth Harris of Cary. Harris and three other victims were trapped after Danahey set a couch on fire outside her ex-boyfriend's apartment.
Danahey said she did not intend to hurt anyone.
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