Here ya go
In my local paper today.
I stopped shooting when he stopped coming'
Defendant in murder trial claims self defense
February 01, 2011 08:37:00 PM
CHRIS OLWELL / News Herald Writer
PANAMA CITY — Steven Thompson came out of room 216 of the Summer Breeze Motel in Panama City Beach with blood on his face and upper body after he shot his friend and co-worker Nicholas Barter. Moments earlier, Erica Allwell, who was also staying at the motel on July 17, 2009, heard a man shout “No, man. Stop. Don’t do this.”
For 15 minutes before Barter was killed by two shots from Thompson’s 9 mm Berretta, Allwell heard banging and fighting. After the shots, Thompson came out and asked her to call 911 because he’d just shot his friend.
“He seemed scared, nervous, upset, shaken,” Allwell said of Thompson’s demeanor following the shooting.
Allwell’s testimony from the first day of Thompson’s trial on a second-degree murder charge was contrasted by the statements Thompson made to investigators that night.
Thompson said he shot Barter in self-defense after the two men engaged in mutual combat in their room. Thompson told investigators he pinned Barter to the floor by his throat and retreated into a corner of the motel room, but when Barter got back on his feet and charged at him Thompson feared he would beat him to death in that room, he told police.
“He was closing in on me. It was time to make a decision,” Thompson said, saying Barter was two feet away when he shot. “I stopped shooting when he stopped coming.”
In his recorded statement to police, which was played in court Tuesday, Thompson sounded emotional when an interviewer told him Barter was dead. Thompson had been punched in the face a couple times during the fight, he told police, but “I’ll live.”
Thompson’s version of the events that night was contradicted by testimony from Michael Hunter, the 14th Judicial Circuit medical examiner, who performed the autopsy on Barter’s body. Hunter said he found no evidence of stippling—small burns that result from being shot at close range—on Barter’s body.
Hunter also examined the body for evidence of injuries to Barter’s knuckles that would indicate Barter had punched something and found none. Instead, Barter’s injuries were consistent with those of someone trying to defend themselves from assault, Hunter said. There was evidence Barter had been strangled and sustained injuries from several blows to the head.
Prosecutor John O’Brien showed the jury photos of the hole in Barter’s hand where a bullet passed through before entering his chest and piercing his heart. The jury saw photos of Barter’s heart and his bloodied face.
Barter was highly intoxicated, according to his fiancée Jessica Todd, who had argued with Barter over the telephone before his death. Toxicology results indicated Barter’s blood alcohol content was .20.
The trial is expected to conclude Wednesday.
How do you have mutual combat and then claim you were in fear for your life?
From the way the article is written things do not look well for Thompson.
YONDER be one of the trick bags I have mentioned. You can't be a knucklehead, then claim self defense when things turn south for you. For self defense to be a positive defense....you have to be cleaner than Red Cross cotton. IF and I mean IF you are the victim of an UNPROVOKED attack, and you physically defend yourself, then things go south and you are in genuine fear of death or grave bodily harm...then you are innocent and self defense IS a positive defense.
This is where leaving the room should have been the first considered option. Don't stay and fight if you can help it.
Sad and unfortunate. I would go insane if I shot my friend.
He's the only one I got.
I remember a story of someone somewhere (better memories help me out here?) taking a beating and walking away. When they reported the incident to the Police it came to light that they were legally carrying concealed. When asked why they didn't draw and fire, they simply said, "I never felt my life was in danger."
When asked why they didn't draw and fire, they simply said, "I never felt my life was in danger."[/QUOTE]
It does not get more clear than this. Lot's of things can happen but untill you feel ( and can convince a jury) your life is in danger the gun stays put!
Thompson found not guilty
February 03, 2011 12:15:00 AM
CHRIS OLWELL / News Herald Writer
PANAMA CITY — Two men went into the motel room. One man came out.
Steven Thompson survived his fight with Nicholas Barter in the Summer Breeze Motel on July 17, 2009 to tell his story to the jury on the second day of his trial on a second-degree murder charge Tuesday.
It was a story the jury believed. The jury began deliberating around 7 p.m., and shortly before midnight, jurors returned a verdict of not guilty, according to defense attorney Ryan Davis.
He said Barter attacked him after the two argued over a cell phone. They fought in the room for several minutes before Thompson got the upper hand and pinned Barter to the ground by his neck. He said he went to the bathroom to clean off the blood when Barter got up and charged at him again.
In the suitcase on the dresser between Thompson and Barter was Thompson's pistol. Thompson, exhausted from the fight and fearing for his safety against a man who had "sustained the hardest I could give him" and come at him again, grabbed the gun so Barter wouldn't. He chambered a round and leveled the weapon at his angry, drunken friend.
"Stop man, don't do this," Thompson told Barter.
"What are you gonna do, shoot me?" Barter said as he charged Thompson with hands cocked, ready to continue the fight.
That's when Thompson shot him twice through the heart.
Barter was killed, leaving the physical evidence left behind to tell his story and prosecutor John O'Brien to interpret it.
"Your story's gotten a little better than it was in the summer of 2009, hasn't it?" O'Brien asked Thompson during his testimony Tuesday. Thompson admitted his story had changed since he was interviewed by investigators because he had recalled more details.
The night Barter was shot, Thompson told investigators Barter was only two feet away and closing when he shot him, but the physical evidence didn't support that.
O'Brien's interpretation: Thompson is a heartless murderer and his story is a lie. The story the evidence—testimony from the medical examiner, the investigators, a woman in the motel that night--told O'Brien goes like this:
Thompson beat Barter senseless and choked him until he was unconscious. Barter came to and tried to leave the room, but there was Thompson, pointing that pistol.
"Stop man, don't do this," Barter told Thompson.
Thompson fired once through Barter's heart. Barter dropped the keys in his hand and raised his hand over the bullet hole in his chest. Thompson aimed and fired through Barter's hand and heart again.
"That second shot was pretty cold," O'Brien told the jury during his closing argument. "Doesn't that seem to be the epitome of a depraved mind?"
If you look at the evidence, Thompson's story doesn't hold water, and his self defense claim was supported only by his own testimony, O'Brien said. What did Thompson and his pistol have to fear from a drunk, unarmed man that he'd already beaten in a fight?
"You got tired of beating him so you just shot him?" O'Brien asked. Thompson denied it.
O'Brien asked jurors not to fear convicting an innocent man. Innocent men are convicted by eyewitness and exonerated by physical evidence, he said.
"Sometimes the physical evidence tells a pretty clear tale," O'Brien said.
Absent being a fly on the wall in that room...what can you say?
I am guessing the guy had a sharp attorney, who if not subboring perjury, at least coached his client in the way to relate the tale in the best light possible.
Hey, I really hope the guy was clean in the shoot. The truth is, I do NOT trust prosecutors. I worked around them too long and know that your average criminal defense attorney is a whole order or two less of a scumbag than a politically oriented prosecutor.
Actually think he had a public defender. The defense attorney's name didn't ring a bell to me as one of the bright lights in the local criminal defense harbour. Whereas O'Brien was a good criminal defense attorney that retired and went to work for the State Attorney's office to increase the conviction rate.
State attorney ‘amazed' by not guilty verdict
Man accused of murder is freed
February 03, 2011 06:41:00 PM
PANAMA CITY — A jury of three men and three women deliberated late into the night Wednesday before deciding Steven Thompson acted in self-defense when he shot his friend in a Panama City Beach motel room in 2009.
The not guilty verdict came back just before midnight after nearly five hours of deliberation, shocking prosecutors. State Attorney Glenn Hess said Thursday he believed Thompson would be found guilty in the killing of Nicholas Barter while the two Tallahassee men were staying in Panama City Beach for work.
“I was amazed,” Hess said. “We tried the hell out of that case … but that’s why we have the system we have.”
Thompson testified he and Barter fought for several minutes before Thompson hit Barter several times as hard as he could and subdued him by pinning him to the floor by his throat. Both men sustained injuries in the fight that left them bloody, but in photos shown to the jury, Thompson’s injuries appeared less severe. Thompson told the jury he was exhausted and feared he would be beaten to death when he shot Barter twice through the heart.
Prosecutor John O’Brien, who didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Thursday, saw it differently. He tried to convince the jury Thompson had no reason to fear an intoxicated man who he’d already beaten up once.
Ryan Davis, the Tallahassee defense attorney who represented Thompson with co-counsel Miles Kinsell, said he thought the most important piece of evidence turned up halfway through the trial.
O’Brien showed the jury video surveillance footage from outside the motel room after the shooting that showed Thompson leaving the room after shooting Barter. But during her testimony, investigator Katherine Bowker mentioned seeing additional footage from the motel that night — footage neither prosecutors nor the defense had seen. O’Brien dug up the footage during a recess and turned over a copy to Davis and Kinsell, who played it for the jury the next day.
The footage showed Barter moving around in the parking lot before he was killed. Davis said it was a crucial piece of evidence because the state was arguing Barter was “knee-walking drunk,” too drunk to pose a serious threat to Thompson.
“Having evidence that showed Mr. Barter up and walking around was very helpful,” Davis said Thursday.
Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Hawkins, who helped prosecute the case, downplayed the significance of the second video.
“Surveillance video from outside the hotel room had little relevance to what happened in the hotel room,” Hawkins said.
Hess said Thompson’s self-defense argument wasn’t supported by the Stand Your Ground law, which allows the use of deadly force to prevent the commission of a felony. Even if Thompson’s story is to be believed and Barter attacked him, the fight amounted to a misdemeanor battery, not a felony, Hess said.
“Under the law there’s no justification for what happened in that motel room. However … the jury has the right to pardon the defendant if they so choose,” Hess said.
Davis said he and Thompson were pleased with the jury’s verdict and expressed sympathies for Barter’s family.
“It’s a horrible situation for his family. We don’t want to see anyone lose his life,” Davis said. “This is something that Mr. Thompson will have to live with for the rest of his life.”
Hawkins also expressed sympathy for Barter’s family. Ultimately, she said, “it’s in the hands of the jury, and that’s the system we have.”
Thompson had been held without bail since his arrest the night of the shooting, July 17, 2009. After the clerk read the verdict, Judge Michael Overstreet ordered his release.
So it appeared that the shooter had been sitting in jail since July 2009. How's that for innocent until proven guilty.
And the defense attorney was from Tallahassee. No wonder his name didn't ring a bell. That had to have cost someone a chunk of change for a defense attorney from another city two hours away to handle the case.
I always loose track of who is who in these articles.
Colorado has a "Mutual Combat" law on the books. If I am reading this article correctly, the shooter would have been in the clear (if this occurred in CO) if his testimony was truthful. Once you "resign" from the combat (actively and verbally) and the other party continues to come at you, use of force escalation is justified, up to lethal force.
It appears that this was justified also according to the jury, but the guy had to sit in jail for a year and a half for a chance to prove it being he was held without bail.
Average market value for defending your life in less than perfect conditions.
Originally Posted by Sandflea13