Murder conviction reversed on stand-your-ground instruction

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines man convicted last year of murder in the death of a man on a city street will get a new trial because of changes made by Iowa lawmakers in a 2017 stand-your-ground law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Miguel Angel Lorenzo Baltazar must get a new trial because instructions to the jury in his 2018 trial indicated that a defendant claiming self-defense is not justified in using deadly force if an alternative course of action was available.

The Iowa Legislature made effective on July 1, 2017, a new stand-your-ground law that removed that language and added that citizens have no duty to retreat before using force. The shooting involving Baltazar was 27 days after that law became effective.

Appeals court justices concluded the jury instructions were wrong and his conviction must be reversed, but since evidence was sufficient to support Baltazar’s conviction, a second trial is justified.

Court documents say Baltazar shot Jeffrey “Pumba” Mercado because he thought Mercado was armed as he approached on a Des Moines street, but police found no weapon on his body.

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