CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Bennie L. Peterson (Defendant), was convicted by jury of manslaughter for the killing of Charles Keitt (Keitt). The Defendant claims the killing was in self-defense.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Self-defense is not an available defense to (1) one who provokes conflict or is the aggressor in it or (2) one who does not retreat if he can safely do so.
When the matter sought to be explored on voir dire does not relate to one of those recognized classes, it is incumbent upon the proponent to lay a foundation for his question by showing that it is reasonably calculated to discover an actual and likely source of prejudice, rather than pursue a speculative will-o-the-wisp.View Full Point of Law
Is the right to use deadly force in self-defense available to one who provokes conflict or is the aggressor in it?
Is the right to use deadly force in self-defense available to one who does not retreat when he safely can retreat?
No. A person cannot claim self-defense by a self-generated necessity to kill. The right to homicidal self-defense is only granted to those free from fault in the difficulty. Until the Defendant himself procured the pistol, there had been no threat or display of weapons. The Defendant cannot claim self-defense in a deadly situation he created.
No. While the Defendant is not obligated to retreat in every set of circumstances, he must when he safely can retreat. At no time did the Defendant attempt to retreat from Keitt’s advance with the lug wrench.
Discussion. The right to use deadly force in self-defense is only available as a last resort to those who cannot safely escape and did not initiate the deadly circumstances.