Proving self-defense was vital for the verdicts of recent murder trials
YAKIMA, Wash.- Yakima County has had two murder trials in which both defendants claimed it was self-defense, but each had different verdicts.
Ricardo Dimas was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Dylan Dixon found not guilty on the same charge. Both said they acted out in self-defense. So, what might the jury have thought was the difference between the two?
"It's a homicide, a death of a human being, but there is justification at times under the law, such as self-defense," Prosecuting attorney Joe Brusic said.
Brusic said there are three elements that are needed to legally justify self-defense.
1.) The subjective belief of imminent danger or harm.
2.) The belief is objectively reasonable.
3.) The force was reasonably necessary to stop the aggressor.
"Deadly force is not always allowable based upon the specific facts and circumstances the defendant encounters," he said.
From a police perspective, Mike Bastinelli with the Yakima Police Department said they are going to respond to the shooting as any other crime scene, but have no part in determining self-defense or not.
They leave that decision to attorneys like Brusic.
"We need to investigate the case thoroughly to provide him with all the information he needs to make that determination," Bastinelli said.
Dave Kellett is a head trainer at ‘The Range’ in Yakima and he was a Yakima police officer for almost 30 years.
He teaches concealed carry and home defense classes to make sure everyone knows what the laws are.
Kellett said the main two things to consider with a firearm is safety and making sure it's appropriate for the situation. So, that's why you and the people around you can stay safe.
This means there is only one situation where your gun is needed.
“When your life or the life or somebody close to you is threatened. Short of that, it's not appropriate to even display or to indicate you have a gun on you,” Kellett said.
Self-defense may never have an absolute definition, but ultimately, it's decided by the 12 people that sit in the jury box.
Kellett also says a concealed carry permit is nothing more than a license to carry a piece of equipment.
It doesn't give someone any police powers and you should call the police immediately after, if you ever use your gun.