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Raleigh man charged with murder in 'hoodlums' shooting could take stand this week

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - The defense will begin presenting their case today in a high-profile murder case in Wake County.

Chad Copley, 40, is on trial for murder in the shooting death of 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Thomas on Aug. 7, 2016.

Copley plans to take the stand and that could happen this week - as early as today.

Copley told police he was defending his home and family when he shot Thomas from inside his garage. Thomas, who was leaving a party in Copley's neighborhood, died as a result of the shooting.

Copley said there were people in his yard yelling profanities and at least one of them showed a weapon. Prosecutors argued that Copley's life was never in danger.

The prosecution rested their case on Feb. 16 after calling just 10 of its 79 witnesses.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged their client fired the fatal shotgun blast, but said that Copley acted in self-defense they claim the he was under a violent assault by validated gang members.

"The defendant specifically alleges that his home was under a violent assault by validated gang members of the 'G-shine Bloods,'" according to a motion filed by Chad Copley's attorney. "The defendant was not the aggressor, and the defendant did not use excessive force. Alternatively, the defendant reserves the right to assert the defense of accident."

In a 911 a call Copley said, "We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing. I am locked and loaded and I am going outside to secure my neighborhood. You need to send PD as quickly as possible. I am going to secure my neighborhood. I am on the neighborhood watch. I am going to have my neighbors with me."

About seven minutes after that call, Copley called 911 again.

"We have a house…we have a lot of people outside of our house yelling and shouting obscenities. I yelled at them 'please leave the premises.' They were showing firearms, so I fired a warning shot and we got someone that got hit," he said.

Thomas' family hired high-profile civil rights attorney Justin Bamberg, who called Copley "George Zimmerman 2.0," in a press conference just a few days after the shooting.

Bamberg has represented the family of Walter Scott, who was shot and killed by a North Charleston police officer, and the family of Alton Sterling, the Baton Rouge man whose shooting by police was captured on video.

In 2012, an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in a Florida neighborhood by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in 2013.

Copley told 911 dispatchers he was a neighborhood watchman, just like Zimmerman claimed.

When asked why he compared the Zimmerman and Copley cases, Bamberg said, "There are similarities, but I have a feeling there will be a different outcome."

The Associated Press contributed to this articleWHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:

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