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Opening Arguments

Justice delayed

"It ain't over till it's over" department:

Twenty-nine years after he was shot and permanently paralyzed from the neck down, a Fort Wayne man has died.

The Allen County Coroner's Office has ruled the death Friday of Brian Burtz was a homicide.

Burtz was shot Feb. 19, 1983, by Clifford D. Justice, then 59. Justice, a Trailways Bus System employee, told a court months later that he never intended to shoot Burtz, then a teen-ager suspected of vandalizing the company's bus terminal in the 1000 block of Broadway.

Lot going on there. Something that happened 29 years ago is counted among this year's homicide. And as The Journal Gazette's version of the story notes:

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said no additional charges would be filed against Justice because he already pleaded guilty and served his sentence for the crime. “Under the law, we are not allowed to charge him again for the same event,” Richards said.

There was also a controversy at the time about whether Justice should have been charged with anything, since he was protecting his employer's business from someone who tried to break in. Or -- shades of Zimmerman-Martin -- did he chase the teen down, or did his gun go off accidentally? Almost 30 years later, and we still don't really know. But there are people who have thought about the shooting in Flordia for maybe five minutes who are absolutely positive they know exactly how it went down.