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State v. Green Highlights Self-Defense Expertise Needed in Orange County Murder Cases

October 13, 2011
By The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. on October 13, 2011 8:40 AM |

A case out of Georgia is a good example of why a well-presented self-defense theory can lead to a not-guilty verdict. The strategy could also be effective in a Santa Ana murder case .

In this case, a man died in 2008 when his femoral artery was punctured by a knife held by Deiran Green when the two men were engaged in a physical dispute. Green was indicted, but the charges were later dropped.
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Self-defense is often difficult to prove, especially in situations where there are large gatherings of people and a fight breaks out. Santa Ana criminal defense attorneys have seen where witnesses often blame the defendant for the attack or some third-hand witness is allowed to testify that there was a problem between the defendant and victim and so it had to be planned.

Few people intend to go out and commit murder. When people are aware of the consequences -- life in prison or possible death by lethal injection -- they must be quick to re-consider a plot for murder. In many cases, "bad blood" does turn in a fight. But the fatal blow wasn't intentional, but rather the result of an accident.

That appears to be the situation here. Green was indicted for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a felony. But the facts of the case show he never should have been charged in the first place.

According to court documents, Green was renting a room in the home of a husband and wife. One day, he was using a butcher knife while preparing dinner. He was also talking with the wife, which apparently upset the husband, causing him to yell at the renter. The husband told the man to leave the house, and that he would receive a refund for whatever rent he had paid.

When the husband stormed off to get the refund money, Green held on to the knife, testifying he didn't trust that the man was just going to get money. When the man walked back up to Green in the kitchen, he grabbed Green's wrists and head-butted him. The knife hit the man's thigh and punctured his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death.

The trial court found that Green didn't intend to stab the man, but that during the struggle, the knife entered his leg and that he was acting out of fear. The state appealed the ruling that dismissed the indictment.

But the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the decision, ruling that the attacker knew Green had a knife and that he acted totally irrationally by attacking him for talking to his wife. They said he had a right to be afraid of the man and held on to the knife as a threat to stop the confrontation.

Self-defense can be difficult when witnesses say the defendant acted aggressively. But the facts can be used to dispute state witnesses. This case shows that prosecutors will go to great lengths -- even when the facts are obvious -- to get a conviction. Make sure an experienced lawyer is standing by your side when you most need one.

If you are facing felony charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. With three decades of experience, Attorney LaBarbera has argued more than 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

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United States v. Burleson Highlights Need For Strong Motion to Suppress in Orange County Felony Cases: September 29, 2011