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Judge rules ‘stand your ground’ law too vague in Iowa case

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa judge has rejected an appeal from a man convicted in a fatal shooting on Iowa City’s pedestrian mall, saying the shooting wasn’t justified and that the state’s new “stand your ground” law is too vague to clear him.

Under the law passed last year, a person justified to use reasonable force against someone threatening them is immune from legal liability. Johnson County Judge Paul Miller ruled Tuesday that Lamar Wilson, 24, doesn’t qualify for immunity because evidence doesn’t show he was justified when shooting his gun, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported .

The judge also wrote that the statute is void because of its vagueness. He noted it doesn’t specify if a defendant is immune from fines, restitution, court costs associated with prosecution or being prosecuted in general.

A jury found Wilson guilty of voluntary manslaughter and other charges for the February 2017 shooting that killed Kaleek Jones, 22, and injured two others. Wilson argued that he acted in self-defense when firing at people who were threatening him. Miller said a group Wilson belongs to has a history of violence with the group whose members he shot at.

Wilson’s lawyers argued that the state law should have given him immunity. Miller disagreed.

Kevin Duane Staley is the only person in Iowa to have been granted immunity under the “stand your ground” law so far. The 39-year-old shot a man he said ambushed him in an alley.

Wilson’s lawyers filed a motion for a new trial last week, citing issues with potential witnesses and the jury selection. The lawyers allege that prosecutors threatened to prosecute potential witnesses with other crimes, leading them to decide not to testify. The motion also argued that the court incorrectly handled racial groups in the jury pool.

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