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Stand your ground before Supreme Court

Michigan's criminal justice system grants homeowners with the presumption, which can be rebutted, that they acted in self-defense if they used deadly force to stop a person who is breaking and entering their home if they believed they were threatened with imminent death or bodily harm. The state Supreme Court is reviewing a defendant's appeal that the judge should have given clear instructions to the jury in his criminal case about this stand your ground law.

A 58-year-old former Detroit Metro Airport maintenance worker has sought a new trial in the shooting death of a 19-year-old woman. In 2014, a jury found that he was guilty of murder, manslaughter and firearm possession.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 2, 2013, the 19-year-old was disoriented and seeking assistance after she was involved in a single-car accident. She banged on the doors of his house which was less than a mile away from the accident in Lansing.

The defendant testified that he was worried about violent banging on his doors at night and the sound of metal hitting a door. His attorney argued that he lived in a high-crime area, that the door was dislodged, that the woman kicked it in, and she dislodged a peephole. The defendant also testified that a person came quickly from the side of his house and that he shot her as part of a totally reflexive reaction.

The jury rejected his self-defense claims. However, his attorney argued that a judge should have instructed them on the 2006 stand-your-ground law. He said that the jurors could have presumed that the women constituted a threat even though the defendant did not see her before firing his weapon.

Prosecutors said that there was no evidence that the women threatened him or tried to harm him. They claimed that he merely opened the door and used his weapon.

Last year, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel affirmed his conviction but also ruled that the trial judge made errors while sentencing the defendant in Aug. 2014. The Supreme Court heard oral argument earlier this month. The Court may deny the appeal, or return the case to the trial court with its instructions.

Anyone facing serious criminal charges should immediately consult with a qualified attorney. They can help assure that constitutional rights are protected and help provide an effective defense.

Source: The Detroit News, "McBride killer stands ground at Michigan Supreme Court," Jonathan Ousting, Oct. 12, 2017

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