Self-defense and Justifiable Homicides In Michigan

undefinedSelf-defense killings in Michigan can have messy legal, psychological, and financial consequences.

It is not a club you ever wish to join. Officially, 117 justifiable homicides were committed by civilians in Michigan over the past 10 years. And after digging deeper, there are even more, an MLive Media Group investigation revealed.

(Related: Police Investigating Self-Defense in Texas Murder Case)

With Florida’s Trayvon Martin case thrusting self-defense laws into the national spotlight, MLive analyzed thousands of FBI data entries from 2000 to 2010, the most recent year available.

Across the state, reporters interviewed those who acted in self-defense, and any relatives of the deceased. Their findings included dozens more cases than the FBI reports, involving handguns and a shotgun, knives and even choking. Some who used deadly force recall every horrid detail; one watched store video to show him all that had slipped his memory.

It’s lonely and haunting to have killed inself-defense. Many of those interviewed conveyed a deep sense of isolation, regret, and an inability to articulate themselves for publication.

(Related: Domestic Violence)

That held true for a Saginaw woman who strangled her boyfriend with a hair dryer cord, after he burst into the bathroom where she had fled from a brutal beating. Others claimed that they were revealing their emotions for the first time. And while there are not many who can identify with these individuals, they are not alone.

FBI data on justifiable homicides detail the age, race and sex of those killed, and their killers. They include weapons used and under what circumstances. They document whether incidents involved strangers, family or acquaintances.

(Related: First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct)

By law, names are omitted, but they do provide an accurate portrait of self-defense killings in Michigan:

• Just over half of justifiable homicides involved strangers.

• Nearly one in five of those forced to kill was a woman. And those killed? Almost exclusively men.

• Handguns, by far, are the weapon of choice. Knives are a distant second. Two cases involved asphyxiation.

• The oldest shooter was 84; the youngest two were 16, including one who killed his father. Those killed ranged from 14 to 68.

• Civilians killed more people in self-defense than police, who killed 95.

• Detroit is the capital of justifiable killings, though that’s at least partly amplified by poor reporting in other areas, the investigation found.

Two of those killed had plastic guns; one used in an assault, the other a holdup.

“It’s black, it looks like a gun and it’s pointed toward you trembling,” said Edmund Joubran, a store owner on Flint’s east side when he shot the 19-year-old imposter. “What do you do?”

Self-defense killings in Michigan jumped acutely in 2009 and 2010. People continue to arm themselves; Michigan breaks its record for concealed handguns carriers each month. In May, there were 319, 909 permit holders, one for every 22 adults.

(Read more: Domestic Violence Conviction in Michigan: Is it possible to have it expunged?)

That number is up almost 20 percent from a year ago; twice as high than five years ago.

"People are sick and tired of being victims, and it's time to fight back,” said Angelo Henderson, co-founder of Detroit 300, an all-male volunteer “community policing group” in Detroit.

“Ultimately, when you come into people's homes and violate people's space with a weapon, they're not just going to fight back, they're going to shoot back."

Despite the right to self-defense, there is still legal, financial and psychological consequences. Robert Clarke, the Kent County man who shot a would-be intruder at 3:30 a.m., was sued by the man’s family and abandoned by his insurance company.

The legal battle continued for almost six years, until his death from cancer on New Year’s Day 2008. He was 54. His wife strong attests his death to stress from the struggle.

“The main weight on his shoulders was the fact that someone died,” Valerie Clarke said.

(Related: Domestic Violence Definition In Michigan)

In Michigan, citizens acting within their legal rights can use deadly force when facing a threat they believe could lead to death, great bodily harm, or the rape of themselves or others.

That definition is hardly precise, and covers a wide number of circumstances.

“Each case is so fact dependent, and I don't want somebody getting shot because they misinterpret what I said,” Forsyth said.

For example, a Grand Rapids grocer killed an armed gunman who was tying up himself and two employees; it was quickly ruled justifiable.

But when a Muskegon County woman fired a shotgun through her closed bedroom door, killing her boyfriend, it took a painful 10 months to rule justifiable.

In some cases, both parties can be involved in wrongdoing that results in a justifiable killing. Take Kenyada Young of Muskegon for example, who fired off what one officer called an improbable “million-dollar shot,” killing one of two gunmen robbing her.

(Related: Domestic Violence and Gun Ownership in Michigan: Lawyer Explains)

The killing was ruled justifiable, but she went to prison anyway, for having an illegal gun and filing a false police report.

Lacking a clear understanding of Michigan’s “Stand Your Ground” law, she made the other robber drag the body onto her porch to stage a break-in.

In Michigan, a First Degree Murder conviction carries with it the most strict severe penalties allowed under the Michigan Legislature: life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.First Degree Murder cases in Michigan take a tremendous toll on all those involved and can be a source of emotional devastation, especially for the family of the accused.

The stakes don’t reach greater heights than with a First Degree Murder charge. If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, you or your loved one will be sentenced to prison for the rest of their life. With that said, it is imperative that you hire an aggressive criminal defense that will commit every resource in their power to prove your innocence and preserve your freedom.

(Related: Sexual Assault (Criminal Sexual Conduct) or False Claim?)

If you or a loved is charged with First Degree Murder in Michigan, act immediately and assure your best criminal defense and call The Law Office of Brian J. Prain, PLLC, your Michigan First Degree Murder Attorney at (248) 731-4543. You’ll get an absolutely free face-to-face consultation. With innovative motions and defenses, the courage and experience to stand up to scrupulous prosecutors, and belief in your innocence, no one will commit to your arduous battle more than us. Why not call us right now?

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