State v. Pride

The Facts

Victim stopped her car at a truck stop, got out, and went to the bathroom.  As she was leaving the bathroom someone grabber her around the neck, beat her, and pushed her to the floor and robbed her of her car keys.  She identified Pittman as the assailant.  Lively, a truck driver, heard victim scream and saw Pittman inside the restroom. Pittman was with defendant as they walked their own car.  Victim then enlisted the help of another truck driver, got a gun from her own car, and the truck driver took the gun from her.  He walked toward Pittman and defendant with the gun.  Pittman leveled his own weapon at the truck driver, who stopped advancing behind a picnic table upon seeing the weapon.  Pittman and the truck driver fired back and forth, then Pittman and defendant drove away.  Driver fired one last shot as they sped away.


Withdrawal Doctrine:  “One who was the aggressor who provoked the difficulty in which he killed (or injured or assaulted) another cannot invoke the right of self-defense to excuse or justify the homicide, unless he had previously withdrawn from the combat in such a manner as to have shown his intention in good faith to desist.”

The Issue

Whether defendant was entitled to self-defense instruction where he was part of initiating the conflict.

The Holding/Reasoning

No.  There is a difference from withdrawing from the conflict in such a way described by the withdrawal doctrine and from the simple retreat with the defendant engaged in.  “A withdrawal is an abandonment of the struggle by one of the parties and such abandonment must be perceived by the other.”  Retreat is to be considered as a continuance of hostilities.  Defendant was himself the aggressor in the robbery which initiated the conflict.  Defendant did not at any point indicate or behave as though he was withdrawing from the conflict.  Even though the truck driver became the aggressor by advancing toward defendant with a gun, the incident are so closed related “in time, proximity and purpose… we view each as part of a single incident.”  Therefore, defendant was retreating instead of withdrawing in good faith.”

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