A young woman was with three male friends when a fourth individual attempted to hit on her. The girl was not having it and eventually, the friends stepped in on her behalf. The man who was hitting on the girl was affronted by this and two of her friends wound up dead with a third suffering severe injuries in a knife attack. Now, the man is on trial facing two first-degree murders and a third attempted murder charge. The defendant is claiming self-defense. The prosecution has rejected an offer for a lesser charge.
Will self-defense work here?
It is hard to say. Both the prosecution and the defense are establishing their own timeline for events. Prosecutors will say that the defendant hit on a girl and that her friends warned the defendant off. The defendant then became irate and stabbed them after further disputes related to the unwanted attention emerged. The defendant claims that the friends organized an assault on him in which he was placed in a chokehold. This led to further altercations that eventually led to the stabbing.
The defendant has been charged and convicted of other stabbing-related crimes before. All these crimes have a similar MO. A dispute arises and the defendant solves it with a knife. So, what are his chances of a strong self-defense argument? It will all depend on the jury’s interpretation of the timeline and whether they believe the defendant had a right to feel that he was in danger.
How much do his priors matter?
They matter, but not necessarily for adjudicating his guilt. You probably know this from watching hit legal TV shows, but placing your client on the stand is a risk specifically because the prosecution can enter their priors into the record. This is why many defense attorneys will opt not to put their clients on the stand. However, once sentencing begins, it is all about character. Then the prosecution can and will discuss your priors, your character, and the likelihood that you will commit another crime.
In this case, the jury will likely hear about how he stabbed someone over an argument with a toddler, assaulted a woman at a Walmart in plain view of staff and customers, and has no capacity to control his violent tendencies. Hence, he is a threat to everyone around him.
The defense contends that the defendant was baited into hitting on the girl who was with her friends and that, at one point, the defendant is placed in a chokehold by one of the friends. The prosecution maintains that a fistfight was about to break out and the defendant pulled a knife unbeknownst to the three male friends.
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David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with serious crimes in the Chicago area. Call today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.