Prosecutors in Charleston, South Carolina are arguing that the state's "Stand Your Ground" law doesn't apply in the case of domestic abuse victims who strike out against people they live with. You see, it's for intruders, and it really wouldn't be right to drag this statute into our "homes and personal relationships."
It's part of the back-and-forth over a 2012 murder case, according to the Charleston Post and Courier (via ThinkProgress), a domestic dispute that culminated in a stabbing. A neighbor called the cops to report that Whitlee Jones was screaming for help as her boyfriend yanked her down the street by her hair. Things had temporarily broken up by the time an officer arrived, but deteriorated again when Jones went to pack her bags:
But after Jones gathered her things, Lee stepped in front of her. Though authorities later contended that Lee didn't attack her, Jones said he shook her and blocked her way out, so she pulled a knife and stabbed him once. Lee died, and Jones was arrested for murder.
A judge has since ruled that Jones was immune from prosecution under the S.C. Protection of Persons and Property Act. But prosecutors (who've filed charges in two similar stabbings, as well) want to appeal the case, and they say nope. You see, she's just not the right kind of shooter. The right kind of shooter is "law-abiding" and beset by "intruders and attackers." Golly gee willickers, I wonder who he means?
"(The Legislature's) intent ... was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers," Kidd, the case's lead prosecutor, told The Post and Courier. "We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with (its) wording and intent."
(For the record, the Post and Courier notes that Jones hadn't previously been arrested.)
"Our concern is that the statute makes it very easy for people to shoot or stab first and to then exaggerate their fear or the real danger," Kidd added. In his filing, he dug into the law's specific wording:
It says that people should be expected to fear for their lives if someone is breaking into their home, their car or their business. Most people in those situations can defend themselves. But if people share their home with the target of their force, they don't have that "presumption" of fear, the law says.
Somebody want to send this guy a link to the Google results for "domestic violence"?
So the prosecutor's office has "called on lawmakers and courts to clarify whether such residents should be afforded a chance to get immunity from prosecution before they're put on trial." Yes, lawmakers and courts. Please do clarify whether these self-defense laws apply to anybody besides jumpy suburban white dudes who want to shoot first and ask questions later if they sees a suspicious shadow.
Photo via Oren Shatz/Shutterstock.