Amid the protests in major American cities all across the country, there are a number of bad actors hoping to spark violence and looting. Among them is a 29-year-old man from Indianapolis who police are accusing of looting and shooting to death an 18-year-old.
According to the police report, an altercation broke out between Tyler Newby and Dorian Murrell. Murrell was shot and killed. The police report states that Newby said that Murrell had pushed him to the ground. Afraid the Murrell was going to continue punching him, Newby pulled out his pistol and fired. Newby claims that it “happened so fast” that it was “just a reaction.”
Some states have “duty to retreat” laws that prevent private citizens from taking lethal action without first having tried to escape the situation. In stark contrast, states like Florida have “stand your ground” laws that go far beyond removing the duty to retreat and requiring that prosecutors prove that the defendant was not afraid for his or her life.
Indiana falls somewhere in the middle. We have a “reasonable person” standard that is used to determine whether a killing was self-defense (and thus justified) or unreasonable (and therefore murder). For the defendant, this can be the difference between serving no jail time at all and facing a multi-decade sentence.
The question that the jury is asked to answer is: Would a reasonable person in the same situation have used lethal force to protect themselves. The statute is problematic because those who are under attack are seldom reasonable. But it does put the onus on the defense to prove that the individual believed that his or her life was in danger before using lethal force.
Without video surveillance to refute the defendant’s allegation that he was attacked, it will be difficult to get him on a charge of murder. One nuance that many people tend to misunderstand is that there is a difference between homicide and murder. All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murder. Murder requires malice aforethought, a legal concept that requires a “guilty intent.” Not all types of homicide require malice aforethought.
As an example, voluntary manslaughter does not require intent or planning. Instead, it is a heat of passion crime. The individual fired his gun in the heat of the moment and someone died as a result.
If you are facing charges in Fort Wayne, contact an attorney as early in the process as possible. We will protect your interests and fight for your rights, ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. Call The Bellinger Law Office today to set up an appointment.