The Aftermath: Murder Charge Dismissed

Welcome to Aftermath, a portion of our First Line email newsletter where Attorney Anthony L. DeWitt walks you through a real-life self-defense incident and shares his key takeaways.

A Wyoming man attempted to end an argument with another man by asking him to leave the
motel room where he and others were staying. The assailant did so but returned later, armed with
an iron chain. The defender drew his handgun and the man began swinging the chain. There were
multiple witnesses to the shooting. The district attorney initially charged the defender with
second degree murder. In Wyoming, a person who uses legal, reasonable defensive force shall
not be criminally prosecuted. The man spent several weeks in jail while the DA’s office
conducted a thorough investigation. Ultimately, the DA’s office dismissed the case as self-

Does your state have a use of force provision similar to Wyoming? Do you know the
circumstances under which it applies?


Any idea why he wasn’t released on bail? Would there be a case of suing the DA/town because it can easily be shown that violent criminals are released in other cities.


76-2-402. Force in defense of person – Forcible felony defined.

(1) As used in this section:

(a) “Forcible felony” means aggravated assault, mayhem, aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping, rape, forcible sodomy, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and aggravated sexual assault as defined in Chapter 5, Offenses Against the Individual, and arson, robbery, and burglary as defined in Chapter 6, Offenses Against Property.

(b) “Forcible felony” includes any other felony offense that involves the use of force or violence against an individual that poses a substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury.

(c) “Forcible felony” does not include burglary of a vehicle, as defined in Section 76-6-204, unless the vehicle is occupied at the time unlawful entry is made or attempted.

(2) (a) An individual is justified in threatening or using force against another individual when and to the extent that the individual reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the individual or another individual against the imminent use of unlawful force.

(b) An individual is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the individual reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the individual or another individual as a result of imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

There’s also the law that say, and I’m paraphrasing, the prosecutor has to prove it WASN’T self defense before it can go to trial.

All of that said, in Salt Lake City, you’d be arrested and jailed due to the political climate.


In legal terms it depend. In Illinois you are looking at an affirmative defense.

1 Like

My understanding is that in AZ the use of legal defensive force is an affirmative defense so you could still be prosecuted if the authorities choose to do so. But then the prosecutor would have to prove in court that your use of force was not justified.


That statute/law says nothing about mandatory confinement until the end of the investigation. If I’m reading it correctly.


I’m not sure I’ve seen that anywhere in my study of Utah Firearms laws. I’ll do some more reading and pay particular attention looking for that kind of verbiage.


Really? A motel room where the defendant and others were staying and an argument breaks out. I’m pretty sure there’s more to this story than a guy using a firearm to defend himself against another guy armed with a chain.

1 Like

Force shall be used only when reasonably necessary to subdue an attacker, overcome resistance, affect custody, or to gain compliance with a lawful order.Mar 3, 2016
State of Nevada (.gov)
[AR 405 Use of Force - NDOC]

If one assumes the man with the chain had the ability to use the chain the cause grave bodily harm or death and intended to, I would think it would be legal in Nevada to defend against him in any means possible.


Is the Department of Corrections procedure the same for residents?

NRS 200.120 “Justifiable homicide” defined; no duty to retreat under certain circumstances.

  1. Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being in necessary self-defense, or in defense of an occupied habitation, an occupied motor vehicle or a person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors to commit a crime of violence, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter the occupied habitation or occupied motor vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.

  2. A person is not required to retreat before using deadly force as provided in subsection 1 if the person:

(a) Is not the original aggressor;

(b) Has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and

(c) Is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used.

  1. As used in this section:

(a) “Crime of violence” means any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.

(b) “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self-propelled.

[1911 C&P § 129; RL § 6394; NCL § 10076]—(NRS A 1983, 518; 2011, 265; 2015, 1781)


I don’t think it works that way.

But, for comparison sake, are there known cases of individuals charged with murder 2 being released in a shorter time by the same prosecutors as this man?

1 Like

I didn’t say the same prosecutors. I said other cities LA, NY, Chicago……


I’m pretty sure you can’t sue a prosecutor/DA in Wyoming for having a man charged with murder in jail for 3 weeks based on what other people with other charges have happen in other states. That’s just not how it works

I’m not a lawyer though, I suppose you’d have to ask a lawyer in Wyoming if one can sue the state for holding a murder suspect in custody for a few weeks

1 Like

Do you know what Article one says about habeas corpus? Is the constitution the law of all 50 states? If this DA is holding ppl longer than other places that is misapplication of the law.


The laws regarding this aren’t the same in WY, CA, and IL.

If you truly believe there is a case, you could consider reaching out to the man and suggesting this to make sure he is aware he could be suing?

What does WY law say about a person charged with murder, and bail?

Edit: Again, I am absolutely not a lawyer, but, I can’t imagine a lawsuit being possible here

Edit Edit: habeas corpus pretty literally means something along the lines of “show me the body”. There was a body, there was a dead man, and the incarcerated shot and killed that man.

1 Like

The point is, he Constitution requires a person charged be brought before a judge and formally charged within a set period of time and given a trial. Is the Constitution the law of the land and any state law can’t supersede it. No they can’t. Otherwise the US is no betting than Russia or China holding political prisoners uncharged.

This is basically what the dumbocraps are doing to Trump. Charge him with different crimes in far off states making it hard to be in two places at once.

1 Like

Is it a violation of the Constitution to hold a murder suspect for 3 weeks while an investigation is done?

Or is it a Constitutional requirement that even murder suspects be set free in some amount of time under 3 weeks, as the maximum time to determine what will be doing going forward is less than that?

I don’t know the answer, but, I should be shocked if it was in fact unconstitutional to hold a murder suspect for 3 weeks.

(not being released on bail does not mean they weren’t brought before a judge, BTW…)

1 Like

The point is was he brought before a judge? If he was and the judge said no bail, the requirement spelled out in the Constitution is met. Fed his dumb ass bread and water for all I care.

1 Like

I don’t know, was he brought before a judge?

Who was he?

Is there a reason we seem to be assuming no judge was involved those 3 weeks?

1 Like

It didn’t say if he was or not. Only that the DA held him until the investigation was finished.

1 Like