A family retained me on Friday after their son was arrested for
shooting and killing a man. My investigator and I went to the scene
over the weekend, we interviewed witnesses, and we located the crucial
defense witness who had already left town. We obtained a tape-recorded
statement from that witness by Sunday night. I got it to the prosecuting
attorney after hours. By the first court hearing on Monday morning, the
prosecutor agreed it was a case of self-defense. The court released the
client. No criminal charge was ever filed.
Homicide/Self-Defense: A teenager shot and killed his father as
he walked in the door after work. The father had horrifically abused
the client, his mother and brother for ten years. We presented
witnesses of the years of abuse. Expert witnesses testified to the
effect of prolonged abuse on his development and perceptions. They
explained how "battered child syndrome" gave the client a heightened
perception of when the abuser would attack, and why he reasonably feared
for his life when he shot the man in self-defense. The jury was unable
to reach a verdict. The State later resolved the case with a plea to manslaughter and credit for time served.
Homicide/Battered Women's Syndrome: My client was tried for killing her
abusive boyfriend. The trial court gave an incorrect instruction
on assault. Realizing its error, the court granted a new trial. The
State appealed. The Court of Appeals agreed the instruction was
incorrect and affirmed the grant of a new trial. State v. Corn, 95 Wn.
App. 41, 975 P.2d 520 (1999).
Homicide/Self-Defense: My client was convicted at trial of second degree
murder. The Supreme Court reversed his conviction because the court
failed to give instructions on a lesser included offense based on
self-defense. State v. Schaffer, 135 Wn.2d 355, 957 P.2d 214 (1998).