A Charleston man accused of a 2012 fatal shooting of a man was found not guilty Thursday after claiming self-defense.
A Charleston jury acquitted Kelvin Shuler, 50, after deliberating for three hours, according to 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Stephanie Linder.
Shuler had been charged with murder and accused of killing 42-year-old Sheldon Singletary on April 19, 2012.
"Our position is that if you look at the basic elements of self-defense, self-defense did not apply in this case. The jury, obviously, they are the finders of facts, and it's up to them to decide," Linder said. "The jury has spoken."
Shuler's attorney, Andy Savage, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Shuler was hosting a party at his Odessa Street house when a woman said he slapped his friend, Singletary, who worked as a bail bondsman. Shuler, a longshoreman at the Port of Charleston at the time, first fetched a knife, then a gun as he told Singletary to leave, according to authorities.
Witnesses told investigators that Shuler went inside the house to grab the gun and fired a shot at Singletary, which hit him in his chest. Singletary died the next morning, authorities said.
"We don't think he (Shuler) was in imminent danger," Linder said. "He was inside. He cannot be in imminent danger if he's inside."
The case went to trial after a judge denied a request by Savage in January to grant Shuler immunity from prosecution and from civil liability under the S.C. Protection of Persons and Property Act.
The law contains the state's version of the "castle doctrine," which allows people to use deadly force on their own property or in their vehicles if they think their lives are threatened. Its "stand-your-ground" provisions state that people also don't have to back down to such a threat anywhere they're allowed to be.
Savage had argued that Shuler had the right to defend himself. Savage had previously pointed to Singletary's blood-alcohol content - 0.251, more than three times the legal driving limit.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story listed the incorrect year the the incident took place. Singleton died in 2012.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
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