Brady Campaign and criminal case
Cokehead and his dealer are alone in a room, fight breaks out, cokehead fatally beats dealer with a metal lamp. Prosecutors charge murder and, during trial, plead it to manslaughter.
According to Brady Campaign, it was due to the new castle doctrine law: "The reason: Kentucky's new "shoot first" law, pushed by the National Rifle Association in multiple states this year after passing it in Florida last year. "It has created some problems," the prosecutor, Ray Larsen, told the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader. "This case is a prime example.""
News reports suggest a slightly different story: "Last week, Circuit Judge Sheila Isaac rejected a defense motion to dismiss Clem's murder charges because of a recently enacted "home-intruder" law that grants immunity to somebody who uses deadly force against a robber or attacker."
If the KY statute is like most of them, part would be irrelevant: the dealer entered with the occupant's consent, he didn't force his way in. The other, putting the burden on the prosecution to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, *might* have some role, but probably minor (prosecutor would argue you can't use lethal force to ward off non-lethal assault).
Bottom line looks like: with or without the castle doctrine law, prosecution has a death with only two witnesses, one of whom is dead and the other is going to say he attacked him. Some forensic evidence against that, consistent with a fight. No proof of premeditation, etc., and likely an argument that in beating him with a lamp he intended to injure but not kill. One or the other form of manslaughter is a likely outcome, with acquittal or a murder conviction about equally probable, so they took a plea to manslaughter.
It does sound as if the statute is confusing, which is quite possible. I've heard of some that were drafted apparently without knowledge of state caselaw up to that point.
I love the internet. In 1 search and 2 clicks I could see that this idiot prosecutor would be up for election this coming November. (I live in Lexington.) The good news is it looks like he's retiring. The bad news is I don't get to vote against him.
Posted by: Brian at August 3, 2006 05:03 PM
If I recall correctly, Kentucky already had no retreat requirement for many years due to case law. So it is very doubtful the evil NRA's law had anything to do with this.
Posted by: Christopher A. George at August 4, 2006 06:32 AM
As usual, the Brady Bunch is grasping at straws. And if there aren't any straws, they'll make up some...
Posted by: BobG at August 4, 2006 01:34 PM