State v. Harden

Defendant shot and killed husband after a night of “domestic terror.”  Defendant claimed she acted in self-defense; however, the state argued that she unreasonably used deadly force and that she could have retreated from the danger.  The court held that the defendant was entitled to a self-defense jury instruction and that the evidence supported her claim of self-defense.  To claim self defense, the court explained, the defendant’s belief that she was at “imminent risk of bodily injury or death” must be “subjectively reasonable,” i.e., the defendant believed that his or her actions were necessary to “prevent death or serious bodily injury.”  In addition, defendant’s belief must be “objectively reasonable,” i.e., another similarly situated person could have “reasonably formed the same belief.”  The court held that even if the defendant could not claim self-defense, evidence of abuse can be used to negate elements of the charged offense.  The court also held that there is no duty to retreat (leave the home) if attacked by a co-occupant of a home.  After evaluating the extensive evidence the defendant presented of the abuse that occurred prior to the killing of her husband, the court concluded that she did have a reasonable basis to believe that she was at risk of death or serious bodily injury and that the danger was imminent. 



Avon Center work product