Shooting to Scare and Not To Kill: Texas Self Defense

When using self-defense when defending as murder case the defendant must admit to  causing the act the ended the victims life. Usually that can only be accomplished by the testimony of the defendant himself. There are some exceptions.

The problem that arises in some case is the defendat’s testimony may not clearly cover self defense. For example a defendant may say during testimony that he fired his weapon to frighten the victim away. If that happens is the defendant still entitled to a self-defense charge for submission to the jury? In some cases yes. Examples can be found in Texas case law.

In Texas v Sanders the defendant was on trial for murder. The incident took place a beer joint and involved  fight over a pool game. The defendant was hit in the head with a pool cue and fled the bar. Outside in the parking lot the defendant’s brother handed him a rifle and he fired striking the victim in the head. At his trial the defendant testified he was running and his brother handed him a gun and he fired only to scare his pursuers. During cross-examination the defendant said he was trying to save his life.

Even though the defendant said he was firing just to scare the victim the defendant was still allowed to a self-defense charge. The defendant was not required to testify he had the specific intent kill the victim just that he was firing because he was afraid



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