Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fatal shooting after Chasco Fiesta was self-defense, lawyer tells jurors

Defense attorney Keith Hammond, left, sits beside client Max Wesley Horn on Monday during questioning of potential jurors.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Defense attorney Keith Hammond, left, sits beside client Max Wesley Horn on Monday during questioning of potential jurors.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Max Wesley Horn shot Joseph Martell during the after hours of the 2008 Chasco Fiesta. That he fired his pistol six times, leaving Martell dead in the street, is not in dispute.

As Horn's trial got under way Monday, jurors began the process of determining whether the shooting was second-degree murder, as prosecutors say, or legal self-defense, as Horn claims.

Horn and Martell, who didn't know each other, each attended the popular Chasco parade on March 29, 2008, with friends. Martell, 34, crossed paths with Horn's sister-in-law and made a rude remark to her, Assistant State Attorney Jim Goodnow told jurors Monday. Later that night, the groups met again in the street outside a bar where big crowds were drinking and partying.

Kim Dennison, Horn's sister-in-law, testified that she recognized Martell from earlier in the day. She and her husband began fighting with him — the men bumped chests, Kim slapped Martell and he called her a crude name, she testified.

Horn stepped into the argument, and friends on both sides tried to break it up.

Horn, who has a heart condition, told Martell, who was 6-feet-6 and 328 pounds, that he couldn't fight but was armed. Horn lifted his shirt to reveal a pistol in a waistband holster, his attorney Peter Brick told jurors.

Friends dragged Martell away from the fight, but he went back outside moments later.

In sworn statements, some witnesses said Martell charged Horn, intent on fighting. Horn claims Martell punched him. Other witnesses say Martell was turning away, disengaging, when Horn pulled out the gun and fired it six times until it jammed.

"He was a voluntary participant in that argument," Goodnow told the jury. "The shooting was not justified and it was not self-defense."

Brick countered that Horn had no choice but to use his gun.

"There was no opportunity to flee," Brick told the jury. "He was under direct attack. He had no other means of defense than the weapon."

People on both sides of the gun debate are watching the case. It is a test of Florida's relatively new "stand your ground" law, which says people have no duty to retreat and have a right to use force when they feel threatened.

Among those in the randomly selected jury pool Monday was Bill Bunting, Pasco's Republican Party committeeman, an NRA member, longtime Second Amendment activist and firearms instructor. He said his students have included state Rep. Will Weatherford and U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite.

Asked if he has any personal philosophies about self-defense, Bunting replied: "If somebody came up and pulled a gun on me and I had a legal right to shoot them, yes, I'd shoot them."

He was not chosen for the jury.

The trial is expected to last two or three days. Brick said Horn will testify.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Fatal shooting after Chasco Fiesta was self-defense, lawyer tells jurors 01/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 10:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday

    Wildlife

    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]