The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 14, 2014

Defense attorney asks court to reinstate bond in murder case


An attorney for Keith Daniel George — a Limestone County man who will be tried again for the 2009 fatal shooting of his nephew, Rusty George Jr. — has asked to bring his client back to Limestone County and to let him go free on bail pending his new trial.

A Limestone County jury convicted Keith George of murder following the September 2012 trial, and a judge ordered him to serve 50 years in state prison for the crime. George’s attorney appealed the case to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, arguing the jury was improperly instructed. The state appellate court overturned the conviction August 2013, stating the judge in the case gave outdated instructions to the jury regarding self-defense.

“The Circuit Court's jury instructions regarding the duty to retreat was an incorrect statement of the law and should not have been given,” the appellate court ruled. It said the court should have instructed the jury in accordance with the state's stand-your-ground law which was amended inb 2006. The justices ruled that the Circuit Court's "improper self-defense jury instruction was not harmless because the jury could have rejected (George's) defense of self-defense based on the state's evidence indicating that he could have retreated."

Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones then asked the Alabama Supreme Court to strike down the appellate court’s reversal. On Friday, the state Supreme Court denied Jones’ request. Also Friday, George’s attorney, Michael Sizemore of Athens, asked the Limestone County Circuit Court to allow the state to transport George from state prison to Limestone County Jail and to reinstate George’s original bail so he might be free while awaiting his new trial. No date has been set to hear that request.

Stand-your-ground or no

Jones said Monday he was disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling but said he would proceed with retrying George as he vowed to do last year.

“We’re hoping that the Supreme Court would use this case to flesh out the stand-your-ground law,” Jones said.

During the original trial, George had claimed he acted in self-defense under the state’s 2006 stand-your-ground law when he shot his nephew at a party in Elkmont. Jones claimed George pursued the unarmed Rusty across the street into an empty lot and continued to shoot him until the gun jammed.

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