How many punches equal deadly force, before the blows justify a response with deadly force, in this case a knife?

How many punches did Kayla Baxter, an 18-year old Daytona Beach woman weighing 115 pounds, have to take from Keith Lovett, a 37-year-old convicted felon weighing 165 pounds, before she stabbed him in the face?

Source: Deadly force claim denied for woman who stabbed man in attack |

The usual warnings apply. We do not have all the facts and evidence and we are going only with was written in the article and we will assume that the author is quoting the players verbatim.

So the response from the Prosecutor is as follows:

Assistant State Attorney Megan Upchurch said she did not have a clear answer, but Baxter did not have the right to stab Lovett.

“Even being punched five times before does not justify the use of deadly force,” Upchurch said. “He did not have a weapon.”

Apparently, the concept of disparity of force is unknown in Volusia County. I can only assume that Ms. Upchurch has been raised in a universe were punches have padded gloves that self adjust to the person they hit so no damage is done…or that she has watched way too much TV. Unarmed does not mean incapable of deadly force as we have seen before and with deadly results. 

And Circuit Judge Terence Perkins agreed.

…he did not believe that Baxter had the right to use deadly force and denied Lambert’s motion to dismiss the aggravated battery with a deadly weapon charge.

And the sad part is that even the Defense lawyer is unaware of the danger when it comes to “being unarmed.” The judge asked him and he responded:

“Mr. Lambert, when does a punch become deadly force,” Perkins asked.

“When it doesn’t stop,” Lambert replied. “I think if you hit somebody once and you walk away that’s not deadly force, but he persisted. He wasn’t going to let her alone. She said he hit her five times.”

“I think if you hit somebody once and you walk away that’s not deadly force.”  Except that not only it could be deadly force, it has happened before and the one-punch-and-leave guy is waiting to be tried for Second Degree Murder.

This should give everybody some pause: We have a judge, a prosecutor and a defense attorney that are unaware about the concept of disparity of force and that a single solitary punch can be deadly force. This is why it is important for you to be informed about Self-Defense cases in all its flavors including Stand Your ground and other variations. You need to make sure your lawyer has all the arguments he will need to prove you were in the side of the angels and that includes you having previous knowledge of incidents were the “unarmed attacker” with one punch caused death or grave bodily harm.

I shall be keeping an eye on this case.



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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

11 thoughts on “The Kayla Baxter Case: How many punches equal deadly force, before the blows justify a response with deadly force?”
  1. Disgusting. Not only is their concept of a justifiable response way out of whack, they are also ignorant of the many instances where one punch ends with severe injury or death — by the punch itself or injuries caused by the fall.

    Thanks in advance for keeping us up on the developments in this case.

  2. Maybe someone should send the defense attorney an email linking back to this blog post. Dude needs a refresher course in how to defend people in court. Seems like the kind of guy that likes to file motions and seeks to dismiss on technicalities rather than on the merits of the case itself. I could be wrong, though. Maybe he just likes to grasp at straws.

  3. Apologies if I get a nuance wrong, but I believe Andrew Branca has made the point that most defense attorneys are conditioned to defending guilty people, not those who are innocent or have legitimate self defense claims. And they don’t know how to handle the novel situation.

  4. If you’re throwing punches, you don’t have “a” weapon. You have two.

    Actually, I think if we pushed to reclassify fists, ALL fists, as deadly weapons, it would prompt a whole new chain of thought.

    Automobiles should be classified as deadly weapons, too.

  5. Anecdotally, I know of a case in western Pennsylvania, many years ago, where a man punched another man outside a bar, during daylight hours, and the other man died on the spot. One punch, down, dead. It is rare, but it can and does happen!

  6. St Cloud Mn September 2012. Colton Gleason, 20 died after being punched in the face by a 17 yo punk in a car that was just driving by. Kid got out, walked up and sucker punched him. No reason. Completely Random.

    I remember this story, because I lived in that neighborhood while in college.

    (IMO Kayla should have ripped his throat out.)

  7. Ask David Koschman in Chicago if a punch equals deadly force. (Trick question: You can’t; he’s dead.)
    I know of two police officers, one in Chicago and one in New Mexico, who were killed with one punch to the head.
    Someone needs to educate the judge, the state attorney, and the defense attorney, and quickly.
    Please keep us informed of the progress of this case.

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