Friday, January 15, 2010

Longview Jury Affirms Self-Defense

The Daily News (Longview, Wash.)
A jury found a Longview man not guilty of four counts of second-degree assault with a firearm Friday, nearly a year after he brandished a gun at four Kesler's Bar and Grill employees.

After deliberating for about an hour, the jury found Brian Adam Barnd-Spjut, 29, acted in self defense, which means the state must pay his attorney's fees and any wages he lost because of court appearances. Defense attorney Duane Crandall said his client had faced up to 14 years in prison.
The jury enjoyed some lively closing arguments:
"He had been drinking. He was heedless and he was headstrong," [Deputy Prosecutor Amie] Hunt said. "He's angry. He's not hurt. He's not injured."

But Crandall asked the jury, "Where does the prosecutor get off saying that my guy had to wait to get hurt before he could lawfully draw a gun?"

He pointed out that it took police about 10 minutes to respond to Kesler's after the incident. "Does anyone believe my guy would be in good shape after they attacked him for 10 minutes?" Crandall asked.

Crandall also pointed out that Barnd-Spjut was arrested a short time after the incident by roughly a dozen police officers, many of whom had drawn their guns. If police can justifiably draw their weapons to protect themselves, Crandall asked, why is his client on trial for doing the same?

"Let's try to be real careful, OK?" Crandall told the jury. "Because this case is going to affect our community. You have a right to protect yourselves."
The jury agreed.
Superior Court Judge Jim Warme granted Crandall's motion to return Barnd-Spjut's gun and ammunition, which were seized by police. Barnd-Spjut said in an interview that he plans to continue carrying the weapon.
The trial took three days and reporter Tony Lystra wrote a fresh article each day. To get the whole story you have to read all three. By golly that's the way journalism's supposed to be.
  1. Man accused of pulling gun on bar bouncers goes to trial
  2. Kesler's manager backs defendant at trial over firearm incident
  3. Jury returns not guilty verdict in Kesler's gun trial