That Sioux Falls paper reports that Ethan Johns, accused killer of Turner County Deputy Chad Mechels, is pleading not guilty and claiming (brace yourself) self-defense.
"Our preliminary investigation shows a viable self-defense in this case," lawyer Jeff Cole of Parker said at the arraignment of Ethan Johns, 19 [Jeff Martin, "Defense Grows in Murder Case," that Sioux Falls paper, 2009.04.14].
Self-defense? That's the best you could come up with? Let's review:
Johns, armed with a rifle, was in the bathroom at his farmhouse when he opened fire on Mechels inside the home, wounding the lawman in the right arm, court records indicate. Then, after the deputy retreated from the house and climbed back in his patrol sport utility vehicle, Johns remained inside and shot again from the bathroom window, the documents state. This time, one of the rifle shots pierced the SUV's windshield and hit Mechels in the throat [Martin, 2009.04.14].
I don't need a law degree (and neither will the jury) to know that shooting a retreating law officer is not self-defense. The lawyer's got to do something to earn his pay... but wouldn't a guilty plea stand a better chance of keeping the defendant alive than an argument that killing a cop is self-defense?