Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can suspect claim self defense in Giant Eagle killing?

Can a yet unknown suspect in a Washington County, PA bank robbery and shooting claim self-defense.
Vincent “Mystro” Kelley witnessed a bank robbery inside the South Strabane Giant Eagle and saw a man running from the store's Citizens Bank branch with a duffel bag and a gun. 
Kelley chased the bank robber into the store parking lot and tried to subdue him inside the thief's fleeing car.  A witness said Kelley appeared to be reaching for a knife he carried when the robber shot him several times and killed him during the getaway.
Pennsylvania law provides for self defense under these circumstances:
1. A reasonable belief of imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury;
2. No violation of a duty to retreat or avoid danger;
3. The killer must be free from fault in provoking the difficulty which resulted in the killing.
It would be a stretch that the suspect in this killing could make a credible claim for self-defense. However, a recent case in New Mexico is evidence that no defense is off the table.
A Santa Fe County jury, after deliberating for 24 hours over four days, acquitted Adrian Gonzales of first- and second-degree murder, but couldn’t reach a decision on whether he was guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2010 stabbing death of Victoriano Moises Byrne-Gonzales.

Gonzales is accused of stabbing Byrne-Gonzales in the throat with a 3-inch folding knife after Byrne-Gonzales and a friend tried breaking up a fight between Gonzales and his girlfriend at a Mobile Home Park in Pojoaque, New Mexico in 2010.

Read my interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on the likelihood of a successful self defense claim.


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