Hearing will determine if 'Stand Your Ground' should apply in teen's stabbing death

Hearing will determine if 'Stand Your Ground' should apply in teen's stabbing death
Kierin Dennis
Kierin Dennis

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Testimony continued Wednesday in a hearing designed to determine if an 18-year-old accused of stabbing a Dutch Fork High School student can use "Stand Your Ground" as his defense.

Kierin Dennis is charged with the murder of 17-year-old Da'Von Capers, who was killed outside a Cookout restaurant in Lexington.

Dennis' attorney, state Rep. Todd Rutherford, said in an interview earlier this year that he decided to go with "Stand Your Ground" since it's the law.

"We decided to follow the law, and that's what the law allows," Rutherford said.

The law allows the use of deadly force in South Carolina if a person believes they're in danger of being severely injured or killed.

What both sides of the case had to debate is if Dennis feared for his safety the night Capers was stabbed.

Video shows that Capers and other students at Dutch Fork crowded around the defendant's car. The defense argues those students threatened Dennis and prevented him from driving away safely.

Prosecutors, however, painted a much different picture of what happened that night. Several witnesses testified that Dennis was looking for a fight and almost hit some of the students with his car prompting them to come closer.

They also say at an point Dennis could have drove away from the Cook Out - but he simply did not.

"He chooses to turn around and be the last car because he's the leader of this group," deputy solicitor Shawn Graham said. "He chooses to turn around and follow his friends."

"I'm wondering why the solicitor didn't ask any of those people why they didn't leave," Rutherford said. "HWhyhe didn't show them the numerous exits that they could have taken. Why all of them were allowed to stand out in the parking lot, encourage Mr. Dennis to fight. Why all of them were not told that they should have left."

Dennis has been out free on bond. He's also charged with possession of a deadly weapon for commission of a deadly crime.

Judge Tom Russo has allowed a 7 day window for both sides to submit more arguments in writing.

It's not clear how long it will take before the court reaches a decision.

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