Two stabbing cases with similarities end up with different results. In both there is a disparity of force between the attacker and the victim, in both the victim used a knife as defensive weapon, the attacker or attackers had no weapons other than fists and in both the attacker ended up dead.
Garza was visiting his ex-wife and some of his nine children when he got into an argument with his daughter. He physically grabbed her, struck her, bruised her and further assaulted her. During the assault the teen grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her father in the chest.
Result: No charges filed. Death ruled a justifiable homicide.
Case Two was an Adult Male who was being beaten by several people and killed the initiator of the confrontation.
According to testimony at his first trial, Penley attacked Wray, 21, of Walton Street, after Wray punched him in retaliation for Penley striking his girlfriend. Others at the party at Sand Hill Apartments also hit Penley, witnesses testified.
Result: Accusation of Second Degree Murder, first trial ends up in Hang Jury. D.A. to file charges again for a second trial.
Granted, we do not have all the details in both cases and just running with what the media is telling you is not the best or most accurate way to go, but we can gleam a lot form what little is presented.
People can and do die by fists & kicks. The FBI cataloged 742 murders by “Personal Weapons” (hands, fist, etc.) in 2010. Amazingly, murder by blunt objects such as bats and hammers were lower than murders by hands and fists. There were 183,457 Aggravated Assaults by Personal Weapons in 2010 versus 127,509 using guns. This is important because in most localities, a person can use deadly force to defend him/herself against Aggravated Assault.
A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he or she attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes such injury purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008
So we go back to the beginning. We have two very similar cases wit totally disparate results. Both had disparity of force yet the prosecutors saw them differently:
“Antonio Wray didn’t need to die,” Assistant District Attorney Thomas Amburgey told the jury. “When someone punches you, it doesn’t give you the right to stab and kill them.”
One prosecutor decided that being punched by a crowd does not warrant of self-defense and your life as you knew it is pretty much over. The other saw more than enough cause for self-defense when an adult male struck a teen female and no charges filed. We can go and guess why the decissions were made, but the lesson here is that there is no “sure thing” in self-defense. We are at the mercy of people that might or might not have the best of intentions.
Conclusion: Although the law states that one may use Deadly Force if there is a reasonable fear of Death or Grave Bodily Harm, what you may consider reasonable might not be the same to a D.A. or to a Jury.
This is a quote from a D.A. in a different case during closing arguments at a murder case. Again, it was a crowd versus a single individual and the individual shot and killed an attacker:
He asked the jurors if a reasonable person – such as Oprah Winfrey or one of Tom Hanks’ movie characters – would have shot someone under the same circumstances.
I am sure you heard the cocky expression “I rather be judge by 12 than carried by 6.” Well, twelve people apparently bought the above line or the evidence was overwhelming against the defendant. Either way, for a prosecutor to use that line in closing arguments is just amazing. And that is why I believe in applying the triad of Avoidance, De-escalation and Deterrence as much as possible. And be ready for what might happen to you after the attack is over. You just never know.