Self Defense Motion Fairs – Judge ‘Schools’ Defense Attorney on Worth of Evidence

By Jose Medina

WOODLAND – Evidence in court is a mighty sword—but Judge Peter M. Williams told a defense attorney he didn’t have it, and ruled against his motion.

Last week defendant Jeffrey Christian Nelson—charged with battery that caused serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon—was present in Yolo County Superior Court for a motion to dismiss one of the two counts.

Nelson’s defense attorney argued his battery with serious bodily injury charges should be dismissed because he was only acting out of self-defense.

Nelson is accused of trying to gain entrance to the alleged victim’s home. After the victim asked Nelson to leave, Nelson then allegedly broke a window and stood outside in a boxing stance while brandishing a knife, provoking the victim even further. The victim said he lunged at Nelson in an effort to protect his family, and was stabbed by Nelson.

The victim’s sister arrived at the scene and proceeded to strike Nelson with a baseball bat after she noticed the victim was covered in blood.

Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke insisted that the defendant acted in self-defense, based on surveillance footage that the prosecution’s witness viewed of the incident. Gocke argued that Nelson used the knife only when the victim lunged towards him, who according to Gocke is physically bigger than Nelson.

Gocke also argued that the use of a bat against Nelson justifies Nelson’s use of his knife as an act of self-defense.

Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli strongly disagreed with Gocke’s arguments, asking the court to look at the totality of the incident and stated that “we have a series of events that I believe show that Nelson was not acting in self-defense and that he provoked this attack and that he escalated unjustifiably.”

Judge Williams concurred with Novelli’s statement by saying “the defendant appears to have tried to gain entry into the house, then broke a window, then waited outside which is almost an implicit invitation for conflict and falls under a mutual combat scenario.”

Judge Williams also noted that Gocke was grasping at straws and told him “you are not putting on your own direct evidence which is the most effective way of making your own affirmative defense.”

He continued by reminding Gocke that “self-defense affirmative defenses are fact specific arguments and the facts set forth by the preliminary transcripts show that this is more akin to mutual combat.”

The court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss battery charges.

Jose graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and has interned for the California State Legislature. He is from Rocklin, CA.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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