An Atmore man, who based his defense for killing his brother two years ago on Alabama’s stand-your-ground law, was sentenced last week to serve 25 years in prison.
An Escambia County jury did not agree that such a defense was applicable in the case of James Hamilton “Jamie” Scott, who was found guilty of one count of reckless murder in the May 6, 2015 slaying of Tony Scott.
Tony Scott was shot to death with a small caliber rifle at James Scott’s home on Jefferson Avenue in the Escambia County community of McCullough, about 15 miles north of Atmore.
According to Escambia County Sheriff’s Office reports and court documents, deputies had responded to the location several times prior to the shooting in response to fights and arguments between the brothers.
James Scott’s attorney argued that the shooting was justified under Alabama’s stand-your-ground law that was enacted in 2006. The jury found that the defendant pulled the trigger without attempting to retreat to the sanctity of his home, negating such a defense.
Stand-your-ground laws are acceptable defenses for people who have been charged with criminal homicide. The common law doctrine includes that a person has no duty to retreat when threatened inside his or her home and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend his or her property, person or another person.
Outside the home, however, an individual has a duty to retreat, if possible, before using deadly force. Such self-defense or property-defense claims are not valid if the defendant could have safely retreated from danger, which was reportedly the case in the Scott shooting.
In some jurisdictions the duty to retreat is a legal requirement under which a threatened person cannot stand one’s ground and apply lethal force in self-defense, but instead must retreat to a place of safety, unless there is no other alternative.
Deadly force or lethal force is force with the intent of serious bodily injury or death to another person. In most jurisdictions it is only accepted under conditions of extreme necessity and last resort.
Scott reportedly remained in the Escambia County Detention Center this week, awaiting transfer to state prison authorities.