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There are now 7 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Robert says

    I guess this kinda goes into the territory of when people say “My hands are registered as deadly weapons.” It’s largely a myth (from what I hear, there is no real registry for it), but one’s skill might come into context in a hearing concerning the death of someone in a case of self defense. If two people get into a scrap, and the defender, let’s say, punches the aggressor in the throat, causing his trachea to collapse, killing him, largely that’d be an unfortunate accident. However if the defender is known to be a black belt in a martial art, then the court has reason to ask why they didn’t use their training for a non-lethal takedown.

    • Yup. There are black belts, and then there are black belts, of course. But it could certainly be relevant to the issue here: whether it was reasonable for him to believe that deadly force was necessary.

    • That sounds more about whether the defendant intended to use lethal force than about justification, though.
      (Incidentally, a lot of martial arts instructors teach their students to use excessive force “just in case”; would this be a potential criminal issue if a student of theirs got into trouble, or would they simply get sued for giving horrendously bad training?)

    • Most martial arts come from the “end the threat immediately” school of thought rather than the “bring them down gently” school of thought. It’s hard to safely knock someone out or pin them down without hurting them, and if your art doesn’t teach grappling, you probably can’t do it at all. So “you’re a black belt, you could have taken him down without killing him” probably won’t fly.

      And on the flip side, your bare hands aren’t generally a lethal weapon, even for a black belt. A punch to the face with good technique is still just a punch to the face, not a Mystic Death Strike. So I wouldn’t expect “He’s a black belt, he knew he would kill him with that hit” to fly either. Unless it was an attack that you should have known would be lethal, like snapping his neck.

  2. I think the school would argue that they’re martial artists, not lawyers, so you shouldn’t expect legal advice.

  3. Charles Mitchell Lord says

    Here’s a question…what about the incident in Texas where a foreign exchange student happened to wander into someone’s yard, was looking around…and the owner shot him dead?(After saying “Leave or I shoot” from a distance?)

    WOuld that be murder, manslaughter, or justified? Assume the immigrant had no weapon and/or his hands up.

    • I don’t recall that case off the top of my head. It’d depend on more than you’ve described.

      I do remember the Louisiana case where the Japanese exchange student was shot. That homeowner was in fact prosecuted, with the theory being that he couldn’t have really felt threatened, but he and his wife testified to circumstances that very well could have been scary, and the jury acquitted.

      There’s also the Montana case where the German exchange student was shot. From what I recall, the student had been breaking into garages, and was shot after breaking into this one. But the homeowner got 70 years in prison, I believe, because he’d been lying in wait to shoot whoever was doing it. It wasn’t justifiable self-defense, but planned cold-blooded murder.

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