The importance of Stand Your Ground

Published 1:54 pm Monday, September 3, 2018

Alabama’s Stand Your Ground immunity hearings are becoming more and more common.

On Dec. 3, 2013, Demetrius Watson was confronted by a Chilton County woman at his Shelby County property.

Court documents show that the woman claimed that Watson had killed her baby, and was threatening his family.

Email newsletter signup

Reports show that Watson was a Marine who fired one warning shot, and then fired one shot in the woman’s arm that turned out to be fatal.

Watson’s attorney claimed that he should be immune from prosecution under Alabama’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

Shelby County Circuit Judge Dan Reeves granted the hearing, ruled that he was immune and tossed the indictment.

In Woodville, Tammy Michelle Keel was charged in the killing of her husband Rickey John Keel in March 2016.

Tammy Keel and her attorneys attempted the same immunity under Stand Your Ground, claiming that Rickey had been abusing Tammy for years, and she finally shot him during an altercation when he charged her with a rock.

Tammy was denied Stand Your Ground immunity due to the one fact that after Tammy shot Rickey, she then burned his body, and attempted to hide his body under their vehicle. It was not until the next day that Tammy called the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office to report her husband missing.

This was Tammy’s undoing to immunity.

In Selma, on July 31, Jacqueline Dixon was arrested and charged with the fatal shooting of her husband, Carl Omar Dixon.

Jacqueline claimed that Carl “charged her in an aggressive manner.”

Court records show in 2016, Jacqueline Dixon was granted a protection order from Carl, but Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier said that enforcement of this protection was not always enforced.

Jacqueline Dixon’s preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 2, and a judge will decide if the murder charge should be sent to a grand jury. Should the charge continue to the grand jury, they will make the decision to indict her.

One of Jacqueline’s attorneys said that the Stand Your Ground immunity could be a possibility should she be indicted.

“At the time of the shooting, Jacqueline Dixon did feel like her life was in danger,” the attorney said in previous news reports. “In that type of situation, she should have a right to defend herself and defend her family.”

Stand Your Ground is still fairly new to the state.

In 2006, the state adopted the provision and legislators also added a provision that says a person who is justified using force, including deadly physical force, “is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action or the use of such force, unless the force was determined to be unlawful.”

At a Stand Your Ground hearing, the defense team can present evidence and ask the judge to dismiss the charges based on the provision.

These three cases are just scraping the surface when it comes to alleged self-defense, but it does seem that this immunity doesn’t leave you with full immunity.

Watson’s case is up for appeal in Shelby County, Tammy did not escape her court encounters unscathed as much as the general public would’ve liked.

Now, Jacqueline could be in a similar situation.

While it is important to have this Stand Your Ground immunity option, it is not always guaranteed that a judge will see the situation that way.

Only the courts can decide Jacqueline’s fate.