Today's Question: Must a threat be 'imminent' to justify deadly force as self-defense?

Monday, October 19, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:39 a.m. CDT, Monday, October 19, 2009

COLUMBIA — The facts of the case are not at issue in the first-degree murder trial this week of William Clinch. Both sides agree that at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2007, in the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Clark Lane, Clinch shot and killed Jeremy Bohannon, his former brother-in-law.

The outcome of the case rests largely on how the jury interprets Clinch’s justification for the shooting.

The defense claims Clinch, 39, acted in self-defense because he feared Bohannon would try to kill him, his sister and her children. Clinch and other family members had filed protection orders against Bohannon.

On the day he was shot, Bohannon, 32, was going to meet his three children at McDonald’s for a supervised visit. According to court documents, Clinch was lying in wait in the parking lot and shot Bohannon several times in the head and in the leg.

The defense has argued that although the threat Clinch perceived was not imminent, if he reasonably believed any forcible felony would occur in the future he had a right to self-defense.

Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight argues that it does not matter what might have happened down the road because in order for an act to be considered self-defense, the threat against the defendant must be imminent.

Must a threat be “imminent” to justify deadly force as self-defense?

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John Earl October 20, 2009 | 6:39 a.m.

Whats wrong with this picture? The fam has a restraining order on the shootee and yet is meeting him at a MacDonalds. Im sure everyone was advised to stay away from each other but here they are all getting together with the shooter lying in ambush. If this isn't premeditated homicide I guess I don't know what is.

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