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Opening Arguments

On shaky ground

In the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case, there has been a debate over whether Flordia's stnd-your-ground law is implicated. Can we all agree that Indiana's similar law does not apply here?

— After hearing part of the evidence Tuesday that led a Vanderburgh County grand jury to indict local businessmanIra Beumer for murder, Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge Carl Heldt instead set his bail at the level for voluntary manslaughter.

[. . .]

Beumer was arrested Friday on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery following a grand jury investigation into Beumer’s fatal vehicle pursuit of a group of men who robbed him at gunpoint in his home on Big Cynthiana Road on Feb. 19, according to court records.

The pursuit ended on Big Cynthiana Road when Beumer’s Dodge Ram pickup struck their 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, killing Antuan Jenkins, 22, and seriously injuring Jeton Hall, 22. Four men are facing charges stemming from the robbery.

In the most generous interpretation of the most forgiving stand-your-ground law, there still has to be an imminent threat. There might be enough "heat of the moment" here to jusstify a lesser charge like manslaughter instead of murder, but not enought to permit Beumer to chase the criminals down and try to kill them (he's made conflicting statements about whether that was his actual intent). Once the robbers had gone and with them the threat, Beumer should have let the police handle it from there. At the most, he could have tried following the car and relaying its location to police by cell phone.