The South Carolina Supreme Court halted a murder trial and ordered a hearing on the state’s “stand your ground” law after an accused armed intruder claimed he shot a homeowner because he believed he was about to shoot him first.
Gregg Isaac testified in court this week that he shot and killed Antonio Corbitt in Corbitt’s apartment in April 2005 because he thought he was going to pull a gun from his pants and shoot him. Isaac said he shot Corbitt twice because he feared for his own life.
The stand your grand law allows a person to claim “immunity from prosecution” after using deadly force if they felt they were being threatened.
Judge Clifton Newman was amused to hear a self-confessed armed, home-invader use the stand your ground defense, according to The State.
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“It borders on the preposterous for the defendant in this case to claim he was acting lawfully and had the right to kill Mr. Corbitt,” Newman told Isaac’s attorney Mark Schnee in open court.
After Newman refused to let the defense hold a hearing on the matter, Schnee filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court, and Tuesday, the second day of Isaac’s trial, the hearing was granted.
The Supreme Court will not be considering the substance of the law, but rather will review the trial process. Up until now, full pretrial hearings would take place in order to review a stand your ground claim.
“As you know, court time is at a premium,” Dan Johnson, the 5th Circuit solicitor whose office is responsible for criminal prosecutions, told The State. “In essence, you’ll have to have a mini-trial before you go ahead with the full trial. It makes it more difficult to have a trial in a speedy fashion when you have to have mini-trials in factual scenarios that might be absurd, in my opinion.”
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With the trial halted, if a judge rules that stand your ground applied to Isaac’s case, the trial would never reconvene. The Supreme Court will hear arguments from all sides in Isaac’s case and will review a transcript of the Monday exchange between Schnee and Newman in open court.