A scenario (real) to assess
I thought this from THR ( http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=162338 ) might be of interest - tho while posting it I'll also add straight off the court decision. It is a case in which I expect most of us would fairly easily predict the outcome.
There are of course variations on the way some folks might view it - according to state. I am not sure but I think was maybe in TX.
Now the court outcome -
How many stupid moves can you spot by all participants?
Charles Keitt decided he needed some new windshield wipers. So with two of his friends, he drove by the home of Bennie Peterson with plans of "salvaging" the windshield wipers of Peterson's wrecked car.
Peterson caught him in the act of doing this and some harsh words were exchanged. Peterson went back inside the house, grabbed a pistol and returned to the yard. During this time, Keitt and his two buddies had gotten back into their car and were getting ready to leave.
Coming outside into the yard with an unloaded revolver, Peterson stopped to load the gun while yelling "If you move I will shoot!". He then walked up to just inside his own gate and said "If you come in here I will kill you!" even though Keitt was still sitting in his car and had made no attempt to exit the vehicle.
At this point, Keitt decides to exit the vehicle. He took a few steps towards Peterson and said "What in the hell do you think you are going to do with that?" Keitt then turned around and began to retrieve a lug wrench from his car. With the wrench raised above his head, Keitt began to advance on Peterson. Peterson warned Keitt not to take another step. When Keitt continued to advance, Peterson shot him in the face from a distance of ten feet immediately halting the attack.
1) Justifiable self-defense or not?
2) How many stupid tactical decisions can you count in this scenario?
Peterson was convicted of manslaughter and appealed all the way to the federal circuit court - losing every single appeal along the way.
Key factors in Peterson's conviction:
1) Like many here noted, these were seen by the court as two separate incidents. The first one started by Keitt; but the second one started by Peterson. Peterson's decision to return to the house and then pursue someone who was retreating but him in a very bad spot with the jury. His decision to tell Keitt not to come into the yard while Keitt was sitting in his car was seen as a challenge rather than a warning.
2) Peterson was the first to display a weapon and this was deemed disproportional force for stopping the henious crime of windshield wiper theft. Because Peterson introduced lethal force into the scenario before there was any justification for it, he was held responsible for escalating it.
3) At the time this shooting happened, there was no clear doctrine on duty to retreat in the jurisdiction. The jury was instructed that they could decide that Peterson's failure to retreat, if he could do so safely, contributed to the problem. They apparently decided that failure to retreat played a role.