Court rules in favor of man who alleged self-defense

ATLANTA — The state Supreme Court this week upheld a judge's ruling that a Fulton County man cannot be prosecuted for murder because he acted in self-defense.
Deiran Green was indicted for malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault for the 2008 knifing death of Jeffrey Waldon. In 2009, Green asked a court to dismiss the indictment based on a section of state law stating that a person who uses force to prevent death or bodily harm against himself “shall be immune from criminal prosecution…unless in the use of deadly force, such person utilizes a weapon the carrying or possession of which is unlawful by such person….”
The trial court granted Green‟s motion, finding that Waldon had assaulted Green and head-butted him in the mouth, that Green was in fear of death or violence by Waldon, and that Green had acted in his own self-defense.
Prosecutors appealed the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court, arguing that under the state's self-defense statute, the use of force is a necessary prerequisite to a finding of justification, and there was no evidence that Green had used force against Waldon.
“We disagree,” Justice Harold Melton wrote in a unanimous opinion. “Contrary to the State's contention, (the state's self-defense statute) does not require a person use actual force to support a claim for justification.” Rather, the statute says “a person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that (he) reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend (himself) against such other‟s imminent use of unlawful force.”
“By holding onto the knife for his own protection and to scare Waldon, Green was, at the very least, showing a threat of force to Waldon in direct response to an imminent violent attack from Waldon,” the justices noted in the opinion. “Moreover, the evidence supports the conclusion that Green reasonably believed that he needed to defend himself from a violent attack from Waldon that could have caused him great bodily injury.”

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