A South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in a “Stand Your Ground” case puts some new restrictions on the self-defense law. Basically, the court ruled that if someone claims immunity under “Stand Your Ground” but a judge rules that it doesn’t apply, then the defendant can’t appeal that ruling in order to delay his trial.
The ruling came in a Richland County murder case. Greg Isaac and Tavares World are accused of breaking into a man’s apartment because the man owed World money. According to court documents, Isaac and World broke in, with World demanding his money. World and the victim got in a fight and Isaac tried to intervene. When that didn’t work, Isaac went outside the apartment. World came running out of the apartment with the victim chasing him. Isaac “drew the .380 caliber handgun World had given him and shot the victim three times. The victim fell to the ground and died. World and Appellant (Isaac) then fled the apartment and were not apprehended until 2012,” according to court documents.
Isaac’s attorney tried to use the “Stand Your Ground” law to claim self-defense because the victim had a gun. But the trial judge said that bordered on the preposterous, because the law specifically says someone who’s committing a crime cannot claim self-defense.
Isaac’s attorney, Mark Schnee, appealed to the Supreme Court. The question was whether Isaac’s murder trial would be delayed until after the appeal on the “Stand Your Ground” ruling was heard.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
Jack Duncan, president of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, says forcing people to go to trial instead of waiting on the outcome of a “Stand Your Ground” appeal will force a lot of defendants to needlessly go through months, or years, or jail and a trial.
“So you’re talking about putting someone through those sorts of expenses and then you go to the appeals court and they decide, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have been put through this in the first place’,” he says.
He says people charged with murder are rarely given bond in South Carolina, so even if a case is eventually ruled self-defense, someone might have to sit in jail for years.
“I’m going to court on Monday on a six-year-old murder case, so you could sit there for years and go through the expense, tens of thousands of dollars and lose your entire life, your family, your lifestyle, everything, because of this.”