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The Key Self-Defense Trials Coming in Summer 2014

The Key Self-Defense Trials Coming in Summer 2014

Summer 2014 promises a veritable tsunami of self-defense cases, including Walker, Wafer, Alexander, and Dunn

Yesterday I promised an update on the key self-defense trials coming our way over the course of this summer, and so here I am to keep that promise.

Before I get into that, however, I’d like to share a couple of items that have been brought to my attention in the last 24 hours.

“Law of Self Defense” Ranked #1 by Amazon in Sports Shooting Category

“The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” has been ranked by as it’s #1 seller in the Sports Shooting category.

Law of Self Defense #1 in Amazon Sport Shooting Category

Now, I’m not sure how self-defense has much to do with sports shooting, but you take the #1’s where you find them. Two critical keys to achieving this #1 status have certainly been the Twitter campaign launched against me by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the uproarious kerfuffle generated by the antics of CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin. So, before proceeding to substantive matters, I’d like to thank @CSGV, @SunnyHostin, and the UC Berkeley School of Law–I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin has Wikipedia Page Updated to Reflect Reality

Last night somebody brought to my attention that the Wikipedia page for CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin had been updated to reflect her losing debate performance as well as her welshing on our wager. I feel obliged to note that I had nothing whatever to do with this entry, but also that it is entirely factually correct.

Sunny Hostin Wiki with debate welch

OK, now onto the self-defense cases coming up in 2014.

MAY 21: Joseph Walker Trial Still On Track to Start May 21

Joseph Walker is the NJ police officer who got caught up in a road rage incident while traveling through Maryland and shot and killed Joseph Harvey, Jr.  The main legal issue appears to be one of Maryland’s vigorously imposed duty to retreat, given that the facts suggest a safe avenue of retreat existed.  This duty, however, strictly speaking applies in cases of self-defense but not necessarily to cases of defense of others.  Because Walker was accompanied by his wife and children, it seems likely he will assert a defense-of-others defense and thereby seek to side-step the otherwise damning duty to retreat.

Joseph Walker, NJ LEO on trial for murder of Joseph Harvey

Joseph Walker, NJ LEO on trial for murder of Joseph Harvey

Walker had previously filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, based on allegations that the prosecution had acted improperly in their presentation of evidence to the Grand Jury.  This motion was denied on April 23 by Circuit Court Judge Michael Wachs, as reported by the Capital Gazette. Wachs noted that the prosecution’s presentation of the case to the Grand Jury was misleading, but did not warrant dismissing the indictment.

Walker’s trial is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 21.

JUNE 2: Theodore Wafer Receives a New Trial Judge Just Weeks Before Trial Beings

Wafer is the Detroit man who was awoken from his sleep around 2 o’clock in the morning by a very drunk–three times the legal limit for driving–Renisha McBride who was banging on his front door some hours after abandoning the car she crashed.  He armed himself with a short-barreled, pistol-grip shotgun, opened his front door, and then under uncertain circumstances–and it is on these that the case will hinge–shot McBride dead on his front porch.  Wafer’s trial is scheduled to start on June 2, as reported by Reuters and other news agencies.

Theodore Wafer, on trial for murder of Renisha McBride

Theodore Wafer, on trial for murder of Renisha McBride

In recent weeks defense counsel for Wafer have been arguing that the assigned judge, Qiana Lillard, should recuse herself from the case because of the appearance of possible bias.  Lillard had previously been an assistant prosecutor herself, and one of the prosecutors trying the Wafer case had contributed to her campaign to become judge, and also sold fundraising tickets on Lillard’s behalf.

Lillard herself had refused to step down, according to CBS reporting, but the defense appealed to the appellate courts and they have ordered that a new judge be assigned.

Wafer’s trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 2.

JULY 21: Marissa Alexander To Receive a Do-Over on Claim of Self-Defense Immunity

Alexander is the woman who, in the course of a loud argument with her husband, left the scene of the argument, retrieved a pistol from the garage, returned to the scene of the argument, and fired a bullet past his head, and that of his two minor children.  The bullet penetrated the wall behind them, entered the next room, and buried itself in that room’s ceiling.

Marissa Alexander prepares for 2nd self-defense immunity hearing

Marissa Alexander prepares for 2nd self-defense immunity hearing

She refused a plea offer of 3 years (perhaps because she did not wish to be separated from her just born baby), and was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault at trial. Florida’s “10-20-Life” law imposed upon her a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years (three counts, each 20 years, run concurrently).

Alexander appropriately won a re-trial because the trial judge’s instructions on self-defense were improperly stated.  Since her first trial, however, Flroida case law has found that sentences under “10-20-Life” must be run consecutively, not concurrently.  As a result, Alexander now faces up to 60 years in prison on the three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm if she is convicted again–which seems likely given the evidence in the case.

She had previously received a self-defense immunity hearing under Florida’s 76.032–“Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force”–and been denied. To win immunity under this provision the defendant must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they acted in lawful self-defense.  This is a vastly greater degree of proof than is required to win self-defense at trial, where the defendant need raise merely a reasonable doubt that they may have acted in lawful self-defense.  Regardless, Alexander failed on this earlier motion.

Now she is to receive a second shot at the apple, with a new self-defense immunity hearing to be held on May 16, as reported by MSNBC and other sources.  Given the facts of the case it seems impossible that she would be able to bring to court a preponderance of the evidence of self-defense–any narrative of self-defense seems scant, at best, under the facts of this case.

If her motion for self-defense immunity is denied, as seems likely, her re-trial is scheduled to being on Monday, July 21.

???: Michael Dunn Re-Trial Date of May 5 Delayed Indefinitely

Those who have followed along will recall that Michael Dunn fired several salvos of bullets into the red SUV carrying teenager Jordan Davis and several of his friends.  The jury convicted Dunn of attempted murder for the latter salvos of shots, but hung on the charge of murder for the initial salvo that mortally wounded Davis.

Michael Dunn awaiting re-trial on charges of murder of Jordan Davis

Michael Dunn awaiting re-trial on charges of murder of Jordan Davis

Dunn has a Florida constitutional right to a re-trial within 90 days of his hung verdict, and had been scheduled to begin that re-trial on May 5.  This past week, however, his legal counsel (different counsel than the first trial) waived his right to a speedy trial and requested–and was granted–more time to prepare their case, according to news reports including that of First Coast News.  No specific new date for the re-trial has yet been set.  That said, there is no doubt that he WILL be re-tried, and in my professional opinion convicted of murder.  (But THAT said, recent observation of Florida prosecutors leads me to hedge that bet considerably.)

OK, folks, that’s all I have today.  I plan to live-tweet each of those trials as they occur, and of course to report on them in real-time right here at Legal Insurrection.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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“Walker’s trial was scheduled to begin next month, though attorneys on Wednesday said they would seek a postponement to further prepare.”

They may get more time, but what they might do with it seems dubious to me.

Either they have a case and evidence to support it by now, or they don’t. Andrew…???

    “Either they have a case and evidence to support it by now, or they don’t. Andrew…???”

    I concur. There is no new evidence. And Dunn unlikely to have any money left (if he does, was a fool not to spend it on first trial), so not a billable hour thing.

    Is what it is.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

“Now she is to receive a second shot at the apple…”

A sly William Tell reference, hey, Andrew?

If Alexander is given ANY kind of plea deal, she’d be an idiot (along with her lawyers) if she didn’t jump at it.

    “A sly William Tell reference, hey, Andrew?”

    Indeed, it was. I couldn’t resist. 🙂 Kudos for catching it.

    And, of course, totally agree on the plea issue.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Right below the photo of Walker –

“Wafer had previously filed a motion to dismiss the indictment,”

Wafer should be Walker, no?

Hi Andrew, another interesting self defense case that I have been following took place in Washington, D.C. In January. I wonder if you are familiar with this case and might have a comment? According to the charging docs.

The defendant, Corey Stoddard, was a tow truck driver. The decedent, Kevin Crouch, mugged Stoddard and pistol whipped him with what turned out to be a BB gun. Stoddard tossed his wallet and ran to the back of the tow truck yard. Crouch picked up the wallet and left the scene. 30 secs later, Stoddard pulled out of the yard driving a tow truck, drove onto the sidewalk and ran down the decedent from behind, dragging him over 100 feet. When the police arrived, the decedent had been stripped of most of his clothes by the defendant, trying to get his wallet back.

Stoddard was originally charged with 2nd Degree Homicide, but the judge reduced the charge to Voluntary Manslaughter.

    Olinser in reply to Ironman. | April 28, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    If that’s what happened, that seems pretty clear cut guilty verdict to me.

    If he’d been in a car when he was mugged and ran over him as he was escaping, he’d probably be all right.

    Self-defense doesn’t even apply.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Olinser. | April 28, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      I agree. However it’s not a slam dunk. I think the defense will be looking more to try yo get something up in front of the jury and hope for nullification. I think there would be potentially a lot of jurors who would want to pin a medal on the guy instead of convict.

      I don’t think the prosecution can keep out the robbery, simply because it explains why he was stripping the guy. I don’t think the prosecution can keep out the BB gun, because it explains why he dragged him 100 ft. Initially I thought the 100 ft hurt him.

      It does raise some societal questions for legislatures though. Should a person who has been physically robbed have the right to use force to demand his property back should the tables turn?

      Should a person have the right to use force to detain someone who has commited a violent crime and shows the tendency to threaten lethal force against others.

    tom swift in reply to Ironman. | April 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    How is this a self defense case?

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | April 29, 2014 at 3:09 am

      Crouch (dead guy) had a gun, albeit only a BB gun. But in the throes of an attack and robbery, it can’t be expected for the robbery victim to check what kind of gun it is.

      I think any victim of such a crime has a right to try to recover his property if the attacker is still in sight and they have some means of success. To say he or she is not is to say we must resign ourselves into being sweet, docile little victims and let the bad guy make off with our hard-earned property. The robber chose to arm himself, so his victim used the closest weapon he had at his disposal, his truck, to defend himself during a property recovery attempt.

      It sounds like Stoddard tossed his wallet far afield in order to slow Crouch down – make Crouch hunt/work for it instead of focusing the gun on him (Stoddard) while he got his truck. All Crouch had to do to avoid being run down or have Stoddard pull over and take him on was drop the wallet. I view it as an ongoing assault and theft by Crouch as long as he had the gun and/or the wallet.

      I hope the jury walks him.

        so his victim used the closest weapon he had at his disposal, his truck, to defend himself during a property recovery attempt.

        But that’s not defense. That’s an attack. The goal of the attack may well have been an attempt to recover stolen property, but that doesn’t magically turn it into a case of defense.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | April 30, 2014 at 12:22 am

          Sure, I’m aware you’re right. But if I was a juror in the case, that would be my secret position and I’d vote “not guilty” until the cows came home. 🙂

        After Stoddard first threw away his wallet, Stoddard and Crouch went in opposite directions, Stoddard into the tow truck yard and Crouch down Kenilworth Avenue. Surveillance video shows that 30 seconds later, Stoddard got in his truck and then pursued Crouch, even driving up onto the sidewalk to run him down.

        If the average person walks casually at 3 mph. Then, in 30 seconds time, Crouch would be 132 feet away from the point where he and Stoddard parted. If Stoddard travelled in the opposite direction also at a casual walk for 30 seconds, then the distance between them would be 264 feet. Either distance, Stoddard would be well out of danger. However, Stoddard made the decision to turn around and go after Crouch ending up with Crouch dead.

        Stoddard’s decision to turn around, that is the point where it stopped being self defense and turned into vigilante justice. Killing somebody to retrieve your wallet is no more justifiable than somebody killing you to take your wallet.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ironman. | April 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm

          Agree with you on this one Ironman, this is clearly 2 separate incidents.

          To be considered “self defense” the person claiming self defense has to be in “imminent” fear of death or great bodily harm. There is no way this guy is going to be able to prove he was in “imminent” danger when he had time to go get in the truck then chase the guy down and run him over, especially since the guy had disengaged.

          Clearly not a case of self defense. This is no different than if the guy had gone to his truck, gotten a gun, then shot the robber in the back.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ironman. | April 30, 2014 at 12:28 am

          You are correct. My position isn’t intended to be a legal theory. It’s just my own feeling about the case. Crouch was a violent, thieving SOB who needed running down, AFAIC. I hope Stoddard has a good lawyer and gets away with it. Victims need to fight back. If Crouch wasn’t dead, he’d be out pistol-whipping someone else for their wallet and valuables. The cops can’t protect the citizenry in such situations.

Well, there goes Andrew’s summer plans to drink mai tais on the beach while reading Wigmore updates. 🙂

I consider them to be:

Walker – Screwed, probably 2nd degree murder, manslaughter at a minimum. As covered in previous threads, there simply isn’t any evidence he was ever in fear of his life, and he had a perfectly safe avenue of retreat in his car, which contained the wife and kids he would have tried to protect.

Alexander – Screwed, just because she got a retrial on technical grounds doesn’t change the facts of the case. Still guilty, still gets the mandatory minimums, still screwed.

Dunn – Regarding the trial, not sure, given how the first trial went, but he’s still screwed. Best he can hope for is another mistrial, but at this point it really doesn’t matter, he’s already going away for effectively the rest of his life on the charges he’s been found guilty of.

Wafer – With the facts that I am aware of, I can’t possibly imagine this will result in anything other than a Not Guilty or at very least mistrial. As far as I know there are no witnesses, the ‘victim’ was absolutely drunk off her ass (0.20+ BAC), was also high on marijuana, and had crashed her car 3-4 hours and several blocks away BEFORE banging on his house door at around 3 in the morning. The only thing I question is his decision to open the door in the first place – I would have called the cops and told them through the closed door I had a gun, the cops were on their way, and she could either wait for them or pound bricks.

    tom swift in reply to Olinser. | April 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    he only thing I question is his decision to open the door in the first place

    Well, that is the big question.

    Drunk or whatever, McBride wasn’t in the “castle”, and so couldn’t simply be assumed to be a deadly threat.

    If she was trying to batter his door down, if she was going around the house trying all the doors and windows, if she was standing on the porch trying to light a fire bomb … these would all constitute threats which might justify forcible and even deadly response.

    If this all took place after a tornado hit (or a flood, or huge fire, or avalanche, etc), and the phone lines were down, so Wafer couldn’t contact police and just hand the job over to them, there might be some wriggle room.

    But of all the responses Wafer might have taken, opening his door and shooting McBride is probably the most obviously wrong one. And that spells trouble for the defense.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | April 28, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      I guess that question will basically come down to whether or not curtilage is included in the statute.

      Olinser in reply to tom swift. | April 28, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      True, him opening the door is questionable, but remember he doesn’t have to prove anything. The defense raises self-defense and the prosecution has to disprove it.

      Given there are, as far as I know, no witnesses, and not much evidence other than he did shoot her, if he claims she tried to get in and he shot her, I don’t see how a jury could possibly convict.

        “remember he doesn’t have to prove anything”

        If that was true in any practical sense, why does ANY defendant bother presenting ANY defense?

        The simple fact is that the defendant DOES have to prove something–they have to sustain a reasonable doubt against the prosecutions efforts. If they don’t, it’s a conviction.

        And that’s just the burden of persuasion. The defendant DEFINITELY bears the “burden of proof” (the burden of production) in getting self-defense into court in the first place.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        tom swift in reply to Olinser. | April 28, 2014 at 10:17 pm

        A drunk person outside a house, even one trying to get in, is an annoyance, not a deadly threat. Lacking at least a semi-plausible deadly threat, there’s not much possibility of a serious self defense case.

        A drunk person who has succeeded in gaining entry might be a deadly menace. But the evidence as so far presented implies no such scenario.

        So far, I can’t even see a defense case getting off the ground, let alone prevailing.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Olinser. | April 29, 2014 at 3:19 am

        I seem to recall some discussion about the height of the bullet or shell shot through the screen door indicating that she had to have been shot AFTER she pulled the screen door off its hinges, even though the cops set it back in its rightful place for their photographic evidence. If that is accurate, it will come back to haunt the prosecution big time in terms of disproving self-defense.

        Depending on the jurisdiction and the jury composition, Wafer may walk. I hope he does.

          The damage was to the screen door. That tells us little about why Wafer so cavalierly abandoned his primary defense, his real door. No matter what McBride did to the screen door, she was still outside the house and unable to enter until Wafer opened the real door.

          The door makes all the difference. The screen door keeps out flies. The real door keeps out weird drunks, home invaders, and Mongol hordes. Wafer had a door, a perfectly sound instrument of defense, at his disposal. Rather than use it, he opted for lethal “defense” instead. It’s not obvious how his lawyer can make that seem reasonable.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to tom swift. | April 29, 2014 at 1:44 am

      “If she was trying to batter his door down.” I think I remember something about the door before.

        tom swift in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | April 29, 2014 at 2:37 am

        I recall the screen or storm door being in a partially disassembled state, but it wasn’t clear if that was the work of Ms McBride or of heavy-handed police investigators.

        But the real door, not the screen or storm door, will be the important door in this case, as it’s the one which keeps drunk people out.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | April 29, 2014 at 3:25 am

          If somebody tears your screen door down in the wee hours, screaming and banging very aggressively, you have no way of knowing what their next step to further enter your property will be. The homeowner should not be required to suffer the disadvantage of having to wait until somebody as aggressive as this woman was to get all the way inside. The woman was an extremely threatening menace to him and society. She was an extremely irresponsible person who had no qualms about endangering other people’s lives. I hope this guy also walks.

          Voyager in reply to tom swift. | May 7, 2014 at 1:42 am

          I find myself thinking, if someone is banging on my door, even at the small hours of the night, shouldn’t I go answer it and see what’s up?

          There’s been at least a couple of times when I’ve ended up getting home late, and finding someone’s loose pet wrapping themselves around my leg, and ended up having to go door to door trying to figure out who it belongs to.

          It’s not like I can bring someone else’s cat home with me; my cat is an FIP carrier. There is a 1 in 10 chance that any cat he comes into contact with will die a horrible death.

          Can we function if the only lawful response to someone banging on your door is to treat it as an imminent invasion?

          Voyager: “Can we function if the only lawful response to someone banging on your door is to treat it as an imminent invasion?”

          “Clockwork Orange”

          I would suggest that if you’re prepared for a 2AM banging on your door to be a home invasion, and it turns out to be a lesser crises, what’s the harm?

          But if the reverse? #sadface

          And in the real world, the reverse DOES happen with blood chilling frequency–sometimes even committed by 13-year-olds.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Voyager in reply to tom swift. | May 7, 2014 at 7:56 pm

          I’m responding more to the idea that, answering the door to someone pounding on it at 2am voids the castle principle.

          Taken to the logical conclusion, it would seem to imply that one only has the right to self defense if one always behaves as though one is always under siege.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Olinser. | April 29, 2014 at 1:49 am

    I think there are some very interesting possibilities in the Dunn trial. What if the appeals court finds that the instructions were confusing, as the juror questions might indicate? A second mistrial and he might be scot free.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | April 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      He would just be convicted again, I mean he ran, he never called the cops, and even I as big a proponent of armed self defense as I am, I can’t justify the last 2 bursts of shots.

      I actually believe that Dunn was in fear and may have thought he saw a weapon, I am not convinced that fear was reasonable, but I believe it was real, however, with the 2 additional bursts and then running, he is at least guilty of the attempted murder charges and none of that will change on retrial.

So, the state bungled Alexander’s first trial by issuing improper jury instructions, and to make that right she gets a new trial … but now faces a very serious risk of 60 years, rather than a “mere” 20 years, for the same crime(s).

Sure, she seems to be dangerously violent, but still, it sounds like she’s really getting reamed here.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | April 28, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I think ‘when’ she is convicted again the Judge will probably look at the retrial reason and just give her the same sentence.

    Frankly, I think she should beg Angela Corey to offer her the plea deal again.

    Though I could be wrong, I think it really depends on the Judge.

      tom swift in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 28, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      That would be sensible, but …

      … much of the point of these sorts of laws is to decrease the judge’s discretionary options. And although the laws are responses to judicial abuses of the past, the actual result is a blunt replacement; sense and fairness “out”, arbitrary and inflexible law “in”.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

      The thing is that Alexandre has wound up screwing herself. If there was no publicity Corey would probably offer her a deal. With time served it would include very little jail time. With all the publicity she generated Corey can’t back down and offer a deal.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | April 29, 2014 at 3:31 am

        Alexander really screwed the pooch. She and her attorney should have surveyed Corey’s record before deciding to roll the dice.

        But she may get the favorable sentence allowable just because she’s a poor shot and she’s a she.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | April 29, 2014 at 3:28 am

    She’s the one who decided to roll the dice. If they come up snake eyes, oh well.

“the defendant must show…that they acted in lawful self defense.” A quibble from a curmudgeon: “defendant” is singular, “they” (referring to the singular defendant) is plural. The implicit conundrum derives from the PC impulse to avoid the old standard “he” or the awkward “he or she” or the even more awkward “s(he)” in the desire to avoid “sexist” language. This is very common phraseology and most unsatisfying. So what to do? I’d prefer keeping the original “he” but wouldn’t mind using “she” so long as it is kept consistent within any article or post. Any other ideas?

“and one of the prosecutors trying the Wafer case had contributed to her campaign to become judge, and also sold fundraising tickets on Lillard’s behalf.”

So the Judge seriously didn’t see this as a potential problem? LOL. Also, this looks bad for an elected judge to be ordered to step down. Gives some great ammo for her challenger when re-election time comes up.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 29, 2014 at 3:56 am

    A couple other things to notice: Judge Lillard is black, the shooting “victim” is black, the defendant is white. This is taking lace in Detroit.

    What one has to ask is why Judge Lillard had to be dragged and kicking from this case, given the obvious conflict of interest described above?

    One also has to ask is if under different racial circumstances, would charges would have even been brought?

    Can Wafer even get a fair trial there due to the probable racial make-up of the jury pool?

Andrew,regarding the Wafer Trial. I have been looking at Michigan Self Defense laws and I got to this section titled:

“768.21c Use of deadly force by individual in own dwelling; “dwelling” defined.

Act 313 of 2006

Sec. 21c.
(1) In cases in which section 2 of the self-defense act does not apply, the common law of this state applies except that the duty to retreat before using deadly force is not required if an individual is in his or her own dwelling or within the curtilage of that dwelling.
(2) As used in this section, “dwelling” means a structure or shelter that is used permanently or temporarily as a place of abode, including an appurtenant structure attached to that structure or shelter.”

Ok, this is about the most confusing self defense law I have seen so far. I see that Michigan is a SYG state, (surprising but oh well)but I can’t figure out if “Curtilage” is included or not? The section 2 they site in the above entry is the actual use of deadly force statute.

But if I am reading this correctly then the fact that she wasn’t actually in the house but on the porch may not be an issue, since it seems to include “Curtilage”, but once again I am a Nurse not a Lawyer.

    Zachary in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 28, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    It will be interesting to see how each side argues this point. But I think the argument of self defense gets weak along the lines of reasonableness. Was it reasonable for Wafer to open his door and shoot someone for knocking loudly? I can’t see that playing out well.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Zachary. | April 29, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Unless one is speaking of the conduct of a trained police officer, the concept of pure “reasonableness” doesn’t carry as much weight as the emotion of fear when viewing the circumstances.

      creeper in reply to Zachary. | April 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

      No, but a jury might well see it as reasonable behavior when someone has already ripped your screen door off its hinges.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Zachary. | April 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Well first of all she did more than “Knock loudly”, she was actually aggressive enough to cause damage to the screen door, which are know aren’t “sturdy” however, they don’t fall apart just from someone “knocking loudly”.

      Also, he may have had to open the door, not all doors have window’s or peep holes, I don’t remember if his did or not.

      At any rate, I don’t see him opening the door as affecting his “reasonableness” he has ever right to open the door of his home, even if his home is under attack, it may have been his only way to assess the situation.

        tom swift in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm

        he has ever right to open the door of his home

        Not if he wants to claim a clear case of self defense, he doesn’t.

        Abandoning a secure defensive position in favor of confrontation with a disturbance? That’s an aggressive move, not a defensive one.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to tom swift. | April 29, 2014 at 11:38 pm

          I think that really depends on what actually happened and how it happened. I mean if he had barricaded the door and chose to remove that barricade then I agree. However, if it was 3am and he heard a commotion, grabbed his shotgun, the opened the door to see what the commotion was all about, well then that is different. We will just have to wait for the trial and see.

What about the New Orleans trial of the white guy who shot a teenaged black burglar inside his back fence?

lol, Sunny just now edited her Wiki page and took out the part about the bet. She’s is obviously very thin-skinned.

    Olinser in reply to rspung. | April 28, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    LOL it was her!!!

    02:33, 29 April 2014‎ Sunnyhostin (talk | contribs)‎ . . (4,607 bytes) (-1,024)‎ . . (undo) (Tag: Mobile edit)

      Wow – it happened just an hour and a half ago since it is now midnight EST and GMT is 0400 hours.

        tom swift in reply to gad-fly. | April 29, 2014 at 7:43 am

        At 7:34 AM EST it’s back in. The page says This page was last modified on 29 April 2014 at 07:44., so whatever time WP uses, it ain’t EST.

        This line seems to be wrong, though –

        Branca provided Hostin a link to the 9-1-1 recording affirming that Zimmerman was in fact not told to stay in his vehicle.

        As I recall, it wasn’t a 911 call, although the press consistently referred to it as such.

        “Edit History” shows 11:38, 29 April 2014‎ Brickmack (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,631 bytes) (+1,024)‎ . . (Undid revision 606315997 by Sunnyhostin (talk)) (undo)

        But it should be updated, rather than simply un-revised. The fact that she’s trying to whitewash the story should be part of that story.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to rspung. | April 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Some user tried it again. The user account was Notconvincedatall, a user who no longer exists, probably creatred for the edit then discarded. So the dead can not only vote, they can edit wikipedia pages.

    It should be noted that the changes were rolled back again.

    Each time they have been rolled back it’s some long time wikipediaer.

    I sent them a little note yesterday night, explaining that someone using an account with her name deleted some negative stuff off her page. So they may be watching out.

Just so you know somebody using “Sunnyhostin” edited her wiki.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to genes. | April 29, 2014 at 1:10 am

    You know people can undo the deletions? Maybe someone who understands Wikipedia better then me.

There is also the Reeves case. Movie theater shooting in FL where popcorn and some other object may have been thrown. Bail was denied.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to ManekiNeko. | April 29, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    I think this one is going to go badly for the old man. Yes, he was a retired cop, but I just don’t see how you convince a jury that it is reasonable to shoot someone for just tossing something at you, unless it was a brick or something like that.

    Frankly from what I have read, I just can’t see this one as a good shoot, now that is being said before we have any real evidence at this point and before the trial is started.

    I think this one will go about like the Dunn case. He will get the self defense instruction, but he will have to testify himself to get that instruction.

    I also have to wonder if his advanced age might have contributed to his decision to shoot and may have an affect on the trial. I would try to a “insanity” plea based on his age, something like Dementia.

    But, like I said its all conjecture at this point. I don’t think being denied bail is a good sign.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Gremlin1974. | April 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      I think there are some big pluses for Reeves.
      1) He will have a PBA lawyer.
      2) The jury will see cop buddies coming in to support him every day.
      3) This happened during previews. If the theatre is like every theatre I’ve been in, some lights were on, but the main lights were off. So how was Reeves to know it was not a brick?

      OK. I looked up the story. One blurb I found
      “In a surveillance video of the theater played in court Friday, a shiny object appears to hit Reeves and fall to the ground. Then a hand grabs Reeves’ popcorn and flings it at him. Reeves then raises his right hand, fires and leans back in his seat.”

      So he threw two things not just one.

      Ok. I went on youtube to see if I could find the surveillance video. Woa. First what kind of theatre owners are these guys? I expect the video itself to be bad, but only the lower right corner? If you are not going get enough cameras to cover the whole place, don’t get any. Looking at the video it’s a definite not guilty. I don’t see how the judge denied bail.

      First, when it happened Reeves was sitting. If the seats in the theatre are like most. There are arm rests. So Reeves has no other way to move but get up, and he can’t get up because Coulsen is getting in his face. Literally a sitting old geezer.

      Coulsen throws something shiny. The defense claimed it was his cell phone. My first instinct, is something metallic like a lighter, but it would be much bigger. Maybe a cigarette case. But none carries those anymore. It’s probably a cell phone. The screen would explain the shininess.

      Then Coulsen reaches over and grabs the popcorn and throws it.
      At the same time, Reeves draws and shoots.

      I would say that in the same situation I would be hard pressed to not draw and shoot.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | April 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        First I have heard about the shiny thing being thrown. Can you link that video for me so I can watch it later?

        This could completely change my mind on this case, but even if he did throw a cell phone, there may still be trouble with the reasonableness aspect.

        As far as the Judge denying bail, it was probably done to keep from looking like he was giving preferential treatment to a retired cop.

Eric Friday | May 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm

One correction on the Alexander case I think may be important in the re-trial. Did she leave the scene and come back. Remember Florida’s strong Castle Doctrine. The State has repeatedly spun the narrative that Alexander left the house for the garage then returned to the house to fire the shot. Under well established Florida precedent, an attached garage or carport, is the house. Therefore what she did was leave one room of her house for another, then returned to the original room.

    I’m not sure why anything to do with the Castle Doctrine would be particularly relevant, Eric, but I’m certainly open to argument.

    In any case, it’s never been a point of mine that she “left the Castle and came back”. As far as I’m concerned an attached garage is part of the “Castle.”

    To me the relevant point is that she achieved a point of safety–he did not pursue her into the garage, nor was there anything but Alexander’s much delayed and self-serving evidence that he ever presented a physical threat at all–she then retrieved a firearm, she then returned to the place of conflict and fired a bullet past his head, while he stood with his two minor children.

    I suppose a good defense lawyer can spin that convincingly, but I’d have to see it to believe it.


    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense