A homicide case in which the defendant was charged with murder has resulted in a manslaughter conviction. Bradley Quillen was sentenced to ten years in prison in connection with the shooting death of Miguel Delfin last April after an altercation outside a Phoenix 7-Eleven store.
One of the critical facts in the case was not in dispute. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed that Quillen fired a 22-caliber pistol that killed Delfin. But the defense took the position throughout the trial that the shooting was in self-defense. The prosecution said that Delfin was actually moving away from Quillen when he was shot. Here is the background on the main issues in the case.
The Arizona self-defense law is contained in A.R.S. 13-404 and 405. It is referred to in the statues as “justification,” and it says, in essence, that you are justified in using force against someone else if a reasonable person would think that the force is necessary for protecting himself. In a case, such as Quillen’s, where deadly force is used, it is justified where you reasonably believe deadly physical force is necessary to protect yourself from the use of unlawful deadly physical force by the other person.
The self-defense argument was weakened by the fact that Delfin was some distance away from Quillen when he was shot, and did not possess a gun, although he had a rock and a knife in his pocket. In any event, the jury rejected the defense of justification.
Second Degree Murder, or Manslaughter?
The difference between second degree murder and manslaughter is often minimal. You can, for example, be convicted of second degree murder if you recklessly engage in behavior that creates a grave risk of death, and your conduct shows an “extreme indifference” to human life. A manslaughter charge can also be based upon an allegation that your behavior was reckless. In Quillen’s case, he was saved from a second degree murder conviction by the votes of 2 of the 12 jurors (a unanimous decision is required). But the jury did find him guilty of manslaughter.
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