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Missouri’s ‘stand your ground’ law explained after Howard County man’s self-defense claim

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A man charged with first-degree murder claimed self defense in a Howard County courtroom Tuesday morning.

​​​​​​​Kundarrius Taylor pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of Torrance Evans. His lawyer claimed Taylor acted in self defense and pushed for Taylor to be released with electronic monitoring, saying he was not a danger to the community. A judge ultimately ordered Taylor be held without bond.

Missouri law does not require a person to first retreat before using deadly force if they feel their life is in danger.

"Other states have a duty to retreat. Missouri did away with that and set it up where you can protect yourself or a third party with deadly force," local attorney Bill Tackett said.

In Missouri, the jury has to believe a person had reason to believe their life was in danger even if it may not have been.

"The question is how do you know you're in imminent danger of deadly force?" Tackett said.

Someone can use deadly force if they feel they're in danger of crimes like murder, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, and any forcible sexual offenses.

The law saw national attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin's death in 2012. George Zimmerman shot Martin but was acquitted on second-degree murder charges in part because he claimed self-defense.

A peer reviewed study, found that stand your ground laws are linked to increased homicide rates, amounting to hundreds of additional deaths per year.

"I really urge people to get training. But you should still know the law because this is really serious business it," local attorney Dale Roberts said.

Missouri also has the castle doctrine, which allows a person to use deadly force to protect their home against intruders.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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