The upcoming trial of Joseph Walker involves an off-duty New Jersey police officer traveling through Maryland with his wife and small children in a Kia minivan, and Joseph Dean Harvey, Jr., traveling the same roads with his friend, Adam Pidel in a Honda Accord. A road rage incident ensues, a confrontation occurs, and Walker shoots Harvey dead on the side of the road.
Walker, charged with first degree murder and several firearms enhancements, claims that he shot and killed Harvey in necessary self-defense, and defense of his wife and children.
The key difficulty with the defense narrative is that Maryland is a duty-to-retreat state, under the law, and Harvey was unarmed and on foot and Walker had immediate access to a motor vehicle, under the facts.
In such jurisdictions under such scenarios the courts almost always require that the defender make use of his operable vehicle to safely retreat from the confrontation before that defender is permitted to lawfully resort to deadly force in self-defense.
An odd wrinkle of Maryland self-defense law appears to be that although a duty to retreat is imposed upon a defender acting in defense of himself, the duty to retreat does not apply if the defender is acting in defense of others. It has yet to be seen how this will play out in court.
Nevertheless, a number of witness statements to police are being released and shedding light and providing context to the sharp and fatal confrontation between Harvey and Walker.
In this post we share the testimony to police of a redacted (as to identity) witness who was the passenger in a vehicle who observed a portion of the conflict, beginning after whatever event initiated the conflict and ending before the actual shots were fired. Nevertheless, this witnesses’ testimony would appear to be of a nature that would be both compelling to the jury and favorable to Walker.
For the whole piece, check out our post at Legal Insurrection, here:
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere. In addition to the book, Andrew also conducts Law of Self Defense Seminars all around the country. Seminars for 2014 are currently being scheduled, if you’d like to see one held in your area fill out the comment box on the LOSD Seminar review page, where you can also see reviews of recently completed seminars in New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and elsewhere. Andrew is also a contributing author on self defense law topics to Combat Handguns, Ammoland.com, Legal Insurrection, and others. You can follow Andrew on Twitter at @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.