Skip to comments.Despite ‘Castle Doctrine,’ Defendant is Convicted in Slaying (Disabled, Retired Marine Convicted)
Posted on 05/31/2012 8:25:13 AM PDT by DogByte6RER
Despite Castle Doctrine, defendant is convicted in slaying
A PHILADELPHIA JUDGE said Wednesday he was convinced that a disabled, retired Marine was being attacked in the moments before he fatally stabbed a man last October, but he concluded that the stabbing was still a criminal act rather than self-defense.
Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner then convicted Jonathan Lowe, 57, of voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime. The judge found him not guilty of the more-serious charges of first- and third-degree murder.
Lowe, who wears a pacemaker and has survived two strokes and two heart surgeries, could face up to 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison when Lerner sentences him Aug. 16.
The case underscores how uncertain the claim of self-defense can be, even in a state that revised its "Castle Doctrine" last year to give an individual the right to use deadly force in self-defense anywhere in which a person has a legal right to be. The revised law also eliminated the duty to retreat before using that force. Lowes case was featured in March in a Daily News article about the revision of that doctrine.
The voluntary-manslaughter conviction means that Lowe committed the stabbing under provocation but that his actions were unreasonable, or imperfect self-defense, Lerner said.
"There are some unanswered questions in my mind about what happened here," Lerner said. "We will never know exactly how this incident began, and I dont think we will ever know, 100 percent, when the stabbing began."
During the two-day nonjury trial, Lowe and his attorney, Samuel C. Stretton, argued that he acted in self-defense on the evening of Oct. 1, 2011, when he was jumped by Loren Manning Jr., 51, and at least two other men on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near Bouvier Street.
"When he had his hands around my neck, I pulled out my knife and started stabbing him," Lowe testified Wednesday.
Stretton noted that Lowe stayed at the scene and cooperated with police, believing himself to be the victim.
Stretton said case law barred him from introducing Mannings 18 criminal convictions at trial because Lowe wasnt aware of them and most of them were too old, the most recent from 2002. According to court records, Manning was awaiting trial for allegedly knocking out a womans teeth while robbing her two years ago Thursday.
Assistant D.A. Carolyn Naylor argued this week that Lowe had been the aggressor.
Lowe testified that he used a small, quick-open knife to stab Manning after being knocked to the ground and choked during a robbery attempt.
Two Temple University students said Manning was chasing Lowe and trying to hit him with a metal pole before he caught him. Manning then pinned Lowe to the ground, they said.
But both students said they did not see Lowe stab Manning while the two men were on the ground, nor after Manning got up and quickly collapsed from four stab wounds in his neck, thigh and back.
Naylor seized on inconsistencies between the testimonies of Lowe and the students, including where the stabbing took place. She argued that before the students came upon the struggle, Lowe stabbed Manning from behind before both men ended up on the ground.
She noted that two stab wounds were in Mannings back. She also said Lowe showed intent to kill with malice because after Manning fell mortally wounded, Lowe taunted him and even tried to stab him some more.
A retired Marine with medical disabilities now faces possibly the rest of his life (he is 57 with heart conditions and a history of strokes) in prison for killing a career criminal who was attacking him.
This retired Marine should be given the keys to the city for his military service and for fighting back and surviving a criminal attack, and further sparing Philly from any more predations by the now dead thug.
A travesty of justice.
So was he convicted by a jury or not?!? By the sound of it, he either accepted a plea deal (which was stupid) or was convicted in a bench trial (don’t think that can happen on charges that serious, bench trials are usually limited to traffic violations and minor offenses).
"Travesty" doesn't quite cut it in describing the injustice here.
Sounds like Philly is not going to be the place I retire to.....
So wouldn't unanswered questions lead to "reasonable doubt"? It would in my mind.
“A PHILADELPHIA JUDGE”
Answers all the questions.
It reads like it was a bench trial.
So Lowe's blood was up. He's supposed to be all calm and reasonable with a guy who chased him down, tried to beat him with a metal pipe, and was choking him before he stabbed him? If I were in that position and lucky enough to survive, I'd get in a few victory taunts, too. Besides, he can blame the extra stabs on Uncle Sam--it's his training.
This is Philadelphia, controlled by Democrats for over 50 years, where they have out-of-control crime and want to enact their own anti-firearm laws despite a state preemption of such ordinances.
Philadelphia has shown a hostility to anyone other than criminals.
a pox on that court.. what a travesty of justice.
"unanswered questions" == "reasonable doubt"
A judge ought to know that.
That was my first thought.
A terrible judge commits terrible verdicts.
Several years ago, I watched “Court TV” for a couple of months. It literally gave me the chills.
If I were an innocent person, I would be extremely frightened to go before an American Court.
If I were a guilty one, there are few things I would rather have than an American jury.
Judge Lerner’s bio ...
Hon. Benjamin Lerner
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia
Judge Lerner, originally appointed to the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County in 1996, was elected to his present term in 1999. In his current position, Judge Lerner is responsible for pre-trial hearings, including motions and scheduling, in all of the courts homicide cases. He also presides over non-jury homicide trials, degree of guilt hearings and decertification hearings. Immediately prior to coming to the bench, Judge Lerner was Of Counsel at the law firm of Dilworth, Paxson, LLP in Philadelphia where he concentrated his practice on litigation, with emphasis on white collar criminal defense and trial of complex civil cases in both federal and state courts. From 1975 through 1990, Judge Lerner served as Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. In that capacity, Judge Lerner represented criminal and juvenile defendants as well as child advocacy and mental health cases. From 1973 until 1975 Judge Lerner served as the Deputy Attorney General in the Pennsylvania Department of Justices Office of Criminal Law. Judge Lerner also clerked for the Honorable Stanley A. Weigel from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco immediately upon graduating from law school. A member of the Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure Rules Committee (1977-1986), the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1980-1986), President of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (1983-1985), and the Philadelphia Bar Association Commission on Judicial Selection, Retention and Evaluation (1977-1990), Judge Lerner also spent time teaching Trial Advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A recipient of numerous awards and honors including: the Philadelphia Bar Foundation Honorable Gerald F. Flood Memorial Award for distinguished Service to the Profession (1978); the Clara Shortridge Foltz Award for excellence in providing indigent defense services (1987); inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (October 1990) and the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award (1990), Judge Lerner received his B.A., cum laude, from Brandeis University (1962) and his LL.B., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School (1965).
Is he somehow immune from the 6th Ammendment of the US Constitution, which states:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence
This DA needs to be stuffed through a hole in the ice.You're being too kind. I would say burnt at at a stake. On a low, slow, flame.
Judge Lerners bio ...
Hon. Benjamin Lerner
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia
There, fixed it.