The Washington State Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for a Pierce County man convicted of murdering a man at a Parkland gas station nearly seven years ago, saying a judge erred when she didn't allow the defendant’s self-defense claim to go to the jury.
Dmarcus D. George is serving a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder in the 2004 shooting death of Isaiah Clark, 22.
George shot Clark after a confrontation at the station at 13211 Pacific Ave. S.
George, 27, testified at trial that Clark hit him in the head during the confrontation and that he feared Clark because he was bigger and appeared to be high, according to court documents.
George also testified he sensed Clark and people with him that day intended further harm to George and his friends, court records show.
At one point he grabbed his pistol and shot Clark, who had grabbed George’s arm, four times, killing him.
Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz rejected George’s request to instruct the jury on law regarding self-defense.
Stolz ruled George had not met his legal burden to show he believed he was in “imminent danger of great bodily harm” and that his expressed fear “was not objectively reasonable.”
“You don’t shoot somebody for hitting you,” Stolz said in making her ruling.
George’s attorney objected, saying the court was improperly “putting itself in the position of the trier of fact,” court records show.
Division II Justices Robin Hunt and Marywave Van Deren agreed.
“The trial court mischaracterized the situation as it appeared to George, especially by incorrectly assuming that Clark’s initial physical battery of George offered the only justification for his fear,” the majority wrote in a ruling released Friday.
“George, in contrast, justified his fear by showing dangerous circumstances with the danger escalating.”
Justice David Armstrong agreed with Stolz’s ruling and dissented.
A new trial date has yet to be scheduled. George remains in custody.