TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state’s self-defense law is in legal limbo while the Kansas Supreme Court prepares to consider the issue.
The key question is: How should district courts determine whether someone is acting in self-defense or in defense of others? As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in a stand-your-ground case, the Kansas Court of Appeals earlier this month overturned two other district court rulings that invoked the law.
Because of the rulings, one man could now stand trial for attempted voluntary manslaughter and another for first-degree murder. Previously, the men had been shielded from prosecution, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
One of the recently overturned cases stems from the December 2014 killing of Jeremy Pascascio outside a grocery store in Garden City. Loren Wiseman said he opened fire after Pascascio hurled a slew of expletives and threatened to kill Wiseman and his girlfriend.
“You need to leave us alone or I will shoot you,” Wiseman told Pascascio, according to testimony.
At one point, according to court documents, Pascascio told Wiseman, “You think I’m scared of you and your gun? You’re going to have to kill me.”
Wiseman said he would give Pascascio five seconds to leave before he would shoot. He counted down from five but did not pull the trigger. He then said Pascascio would have 10 seconds to leave before he would shoot. He counted down from 10. When he reached three, Pascascio said, “I’ve got something for you” and reached for his waistband, according to Wiseman.
Believing Pascascio was reaching for a gun, Wiseman rolled down the window and opened fire. No weapons were found on or near Pascascio.
Prosecutors appealed when Finney County District Court Judge Michael Quint ordered Wiseman released from custody and dismissed the first-degree murder charge against him. The appeals court agreed with the state, saying Quint should have placed more importance on evidence that Pascascio never entered the vehicle, that Pascascio didn’t have a weapon, that Wiseman had time to count down twice — and therefore had time to avoid shooting Pascascio.
“A reasonable person could conclude that someone in genuine fear of imminent death or substantial harm would not be as deliberate as to count down twice before shooting or as concerned about property damage as to manually roll down the window rather than shooting through it,” Judge Steve Leben wrote.
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