Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Four years later:  Judge grants defense self-defense motion

He should never have been charged

A judge has dismissed a voluntary-manslaughter charge against a Savannah man in the 2011 shooting death of a Thunderbolt man based on a defense claim of self-defense.

Vernon Michael Rich Jr., then 30, was charged with causing the death of Troy Wells with a handgun “as the result of a sudden, violent and irresistible passion.”

Defense attorney Richard Darden argued his client was immune from prosecution “because his self-admitted shooting of Mr. Wells was required to defend his person from attack,” Chatham County Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf said in an order filed on Friday.

“Based on the testimony, the court finds that defendant had a reasonable belief that he needed to defend himself from a violent attack by the victim,” Karpf said.

He also ruled the defendant’s use of force was not excessive under the circumstances, the defendant “was lawfully carrying the weapon, and that he did not leave the scene, but instead immediately called 911.”

“Therefore, the court is satisfied that defendant’s use of force was justified and that he is immune from prosecution,” Karpf ruled, granting Darden’s motion for immunity from prosecution.

Wells, 35, was shot to death Sept. 16, 2011, in Bonaventure Place Townhouses off Bonaventure Road, Thunderbolt police said.

They initially charged Rich with murder.

According to Thunderbolt police, Rich and a female co-worker finished their shifts at Lab Corp. off Southern Boulevard near Chatham Parkway about 9 p.m.

Rich offered to give the woman a ride home and they stopped by a store on the way, according to statements given to officers.

When the woman got home, Wells was there, police said. Wells was her ex-boyfriend and was supposed to have moved out that day.

The woman told police Wells walked up behind her as Rich was turning his car around to leave. Wells started arguing with her, demanding to know who Rich was. Wells tried to hit the woman, police said, but she backed away and sprayed him with Mace.

That’s when Wells allegedly walked over to Rich’s car and started hitting him as he sat in the driver’s seat. The woman said she heard a gunshot. Police said Rich called 911, admitted to shooting Wells in his upper torso, and gave them the gun used to do it.

Rich was not injured in the altercation, police said.

Original report here

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