State v. C.A.

An armed security guard was returning home from work on a hot summer night in July of 2011. He was confronted by his neighbor who charged at him in a very aggressive manner with a closed fist. In order to deter the man, the defendant took out his baton. A struggle ensued for the baton and the defendant eventually lost control of the baton and proceeded to open the door to his apartment. As he is trying to open the door, the man appears behind him and strikes him in the back with the baton. The defendant blacks out momentarily and once he regains consciousness he finds the man on top of him. At this time, the defendants jacket opens up and his gun is visible. The man is pulled off of the defendant but breaks free and again attacks the defendant. In order to deter the man, the defendant uses his pepper spray on the man. The defendant immediately drives to the Newark Police Department to report the incident. Thereafter he goes to UMDNJ to seek medical attention and discovers that he has a dislocated shoulder. Meanwhile, the man and his friend also report the incident to the police. However, they tell a drastically different story to the police and accuse the defendant of being the initial aggressor and also state that he pulled out his gun and pointed it at them. The following morning the defendant is arrested and charged with 1) terroristic threats, 2) aggravated assault, 3) unlawful possession of a weapon, 4) unlawful possession of a baton and 5) unlawful possession of pepper spray.

The defendant retained Brooke Barnett to defend him and clear his name of any wrongdoing. Among other things, Ms. Barnett argued self defense, namely that the force used by the defendant was in self-defense and was no more than necessary because it was provoked by a threatening overt act by the alleged victim who was, in actuality, the initial aggressor. The force used was in response to having been hit in the back of his head with the metal baton that the alleged victim managed to take away from the defendant’s hands. Furthermore, after the defendant was knocked unconscious the victim went to grab the lawful gun that the defendant was in possession of from the defendant’s waist holster. The defendant struggled to maintain control of his gun in order to keep it away from the alleged victim and at no time did the gun discharge. The defendant’s actions before and after the fact are consistent with self-defense. Moreover, the level of force used at all relevant times was reasonable under the circumstances.

At trial, the defendant testified in his own defense despite his constitutional right to remain silent. In her closing arguments, Ms. Barnett argued that the defendant was wrongfully accused and that the alleged victims were not believable. She also exclaimed that the jury’s job was to find the TRUTH and that her job was to bring JUSTICE to her client.

After less than thirty minutes of deliberation the jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all counts.


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