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Panel: Jury instructions should have included habitation (access required)

A wheelchair-bound paraplegic convicted of murder in connection with a 1999 shooting death may get another trial after the Court of Appeals ruled that a trial judge should have instructed the jury on the defense of habitation, which doesn't include a duty to retreat. Thomas T. Bryant was convicted after a Richland County judge instructed the jury on self-defense. He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. In a Dec. 15 ruling, the appeals court reversed and remanded for a new trial after Bryant argued that the trial judge erred in not charging the jury on both defenses. A lawyer for Bryant, Robert M. Dudek (pictured), said a new trial would allow his client to rely on defense of habitation in addition to self-defense.

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