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Process for Claiming 'Stand Your Ground' Defense Discussed in Iowa City Ped Mall Shooting Case


A district court judge has yet to decide if a hearing is needed to determine whether a man accused in an Iowa City shooting can use a "stand your ground" defense.

The man accused of shooting three people in Iowa City’s Pedestrian Mall in August is asking the state to dismiss charges against him based on Iowa’s new "stand your ground" law.

Lamar Wilson’s lawyer say the new law makes his client immune from prosecution in the murder of one man and the attempted murder of two others. The state disagrees, saying a jury should decide during trial whether Wilson is justified in using deadly force.

At a hearing Friday in Johnson County court, District Court Judge Paul Miller scheduled another hearing for next week to consider these arguments. Miller said he will decide whether to hold an evidentiary hearing after that, which he described as a "mini trial". That hearing would be used to determine whether Wilson can use a "stand your ground" defense.

The Iowa Legislature did not specify a legal process for using a "stand your ground" defense. The provision—signed into law earlier this year—says an individual who feels threatened has no duty to retreat before using deadly force for self-defense.

"Lamar Wilson used deadly force—like force—to repel the deadly force he and others were confronted with," defense attorney John Bruzek writes in a pre-trial motion.

Bruzek says according to the new law, a use of force with a "stand your ground" justification means the defendant is immune from "criminal or civil liability".

In a response, the Johnson County attorney writes the new law does not allow for immunity from prosecution.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter