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Man stabs 3, kills 1 during fight: Murder or self defense?

Where rests the line between self defense and murder? In some cases, the line is obvious; in others, there may be more to the story than meets the eye, causing the line to lose its clarity. For one 20-year-old Charleston man, stabbing three other men on April 25 was the only way to save his own life. One of the victims, a 30-year-old father from North Charleston, died from a stab wound to the heart during the altercation.

The incident occurred at a party held at the deceased's residence in North Charleston. Allegedly, the 20-year-old man went to the gathering because he didn't want his 15-year-old girlfriend at a party with strangers who were consuming alcohol. Reportedly, the two got in an argument inside the young man's car and party guests, allegedly concerned about the girl, began to pull the 20-year-old from the car.

According to the young man, he grabbed his knife and, frightened by the surging crowd, began swinging it and jabbing. During the melee, the 20-year-old wounded two of the men and stabbed the deceased in the heart. According to his side of the story, the party guests had surrounded his car and were beating and kicking him, leaving him no choice other than to defend himself with the knife.

Onlookers and the deceased's fiancée reportedly saw a different scenario that night. They claim people were simply trying to get the 20-year-old to leave and that the deceased came out to diffuse an already ongoing situation when he received the fatal stab wound.

At the center of the controversy lies South Carolina's "stand-your-ground" law, which allows the use of deadly force in self defense. Other states also have some form of "stand-your-ground" law but even in states that don't, it's possible to be acquitted of self defense-related murder charges with support from a good criminal defense team. As far as this case goes, police say they can find no evidence that a murder occurred but continue to investigate the incident. The 20-year-old said if he could do it over, he would let himself die.

Source: The Post and Courier, "Man who stabbed three people in North Charleston, family members frustrated by aftermath of bloody ordeal" Andrew Knapp, May. 12, 2014

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