LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - An attorney for the teenager charged with the stabbing death of Dutch Fork High School football player Da'Von Capers will seek to invoke South Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" law claiming the Kierin Dennis felt threatened.
Attorney and state Rep. Todd Rutherford says Dennis, 18, was a victim the night of Feb. 17 when he and Capers engaged in some sort of physical altercation at the Lexington Cook-Out restaurant following a Dutch Fork vs. Lexington basketball game. The incident ended with Capers being stabbed multiple times in the chest and Dennis fleeing the scene, police said.
According to a police report, Capers was taken by private car to a nearby urgent care and then by EMS to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Rutherford says he's going with the "Stand Your Ground" defense because it's the law.
"We decided to follow the law, and that's what the law allows," said Rutherford.
Rutherford said Dennis did not even know Capers and that what happened had nothing to do with a girl as alleged by many people.
"My client was in his car. He never got out of his car. Mr. Capers stuck his hand into my client's car and my client felt threatened and he felt like he had to defend himself," said Rutherford.
Dennis appeared before a judge Thursday morning, but did not receive bond. The judge said he might set bond soon.
Police said the knife used in the stabbing was found buried in Dennis' neighbor's backyard. Lt. Matt Davis said Dennis told investigators where the knife was buried.
Dennis is charged with murder and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Capers was a senior linebacker on Dutch Fork's state championship football team.
South Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" law was ratified in 2006.
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, "The stated intent of the legislation is to codify the common law castle doctrine, which recognizes that a person's home is his castle, and to extend the doctrine to include an occupied vehicle and the person's place of business. This bill authorizes the lawful use of deadly force under certain circumstances against an intruder or attacker in a person's dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. The bill provides that there is no duty to retreat if (1) the person is in a place where he has a right to be, including the person's place of business, (2) the person is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and (3) the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily injury, or the commission of a violent crime. A person who lawfully uses deadly force is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action, unless the person against whom deadly force was used is a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his official duties and he identifies himself in accordance with applicable law or the person using deadly force knows or reasonably should have known the person is a law enforcement officer."
Rutherford successfully defended a high-profile Stand Your Ground case in 2013. His client, Shannon Anthony Scott, was cleared of murder charges following the 2010 shooting death of Keenan High School student Darrell Niles.
Scott fatally shot Niles from his front yard after his daughter was followed home and threatened by a group of girls in an SUV.
Niles, who was sitting in another vehicle when he was shot, was unarmed.
As for this current case, Rutherford does not know his chances for successfully defending Dennis with the "Stand Your Ground" defense.
"It's always hard to tell, but my client has the right to defend himself," said Rutherford.
SLED is assisting the Lexington Police Department with the investigation.