Self-defense will be tough to prove in Raleigh man’s trial, law professor says

News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Pre-trial motions continued Friday for the Raleigh man charged with murder after he claimed he was protecting his home and family.

Chad Copley is accused of killing Kouren-Rodney Thomas in 2016 after firing his shotgun from the garage of his Singleleaf Lane home.

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.”

Thomas, 20, was killed by the shotgun blast, officials say.

Copley’s attorneys argue the shooting was an act of self-defense and Copley was protecting his self and family after a group of individuals gathered outside his home.

“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.”

The case has shined a light on North Carolina’s stand your ground laws — meaning a person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force in limited circumstances.

North Carolina has a “stand your ground” law and “castle doctrine” law but only if someone believes that such force is necessary.

North Carolina’s stand your ground law states a person is allowed to use deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if that person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

The state’s castle doctrine law gives someone the right to use deadly force to defend his or her home, vehicle or workplace if there’s “a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm.”

“In both cases the defense attorneys are going to have to show that the shooter had a reasonable fear for his life,” said Campbell Law Professor Greg Wallace. “They’re going to have to prove that their client is not an aggressor. You cannot just shoot someone for standing in your yard.”

For Thomas’ mother, she hopes the trial can bring them some closure for the death of her son.

“I miss my son. I miss my son. He was a good kid. It’s hard every day,” Simone Butler-Thomas told CBS North Carolina after a hearing last year. “I just want this to come to an end.”

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday. The trial is expected to last a couple weeks.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sponsored Content
Visit Buy Local