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Wyoming Man has Conviction Overturned, Charges Dismissed in Self-defense Shooting
Ammoland ^ | 23 January, 2014 | Guns Save Lives

Posted on 01/27/2014 3:06:51 PM PST by marktwain

Gabriel Drennen

Gabriel Drennen has Conviction Overturned, Charges Dismissed in Self-defense Shooting

Guns Save Lives

Guns Save Lives

USA --(  On December 20, 2013, Gabriel Drennen’s lengthy legal odyssey, following the self-defense killing of Leroy R. Hoster, came to an end when Fremont County, Wyo., District Court Judge Norman E. Young signed an order dismissing the remaining charges against him.

The move followed an October 1st decision from the Wyoming Supreme Court that overturned Drennen’s initial conviction for first degree murder. Drennen’s case, supported by NRA, is important precedent in ensuring Wyomingites are able confidently to exercise their right to self-defense.

Drennen’s initial conviction for murder evolved from a dispute with Hoster, who was a tenant on trailer park property Drennen owned. On May 2, 2010, Drennen went to the trailer Hoster had been staying at to post “no trespassing” signs, following Hoster’s failure to pay lot fees. While Drennen was putting up the signs, an unarmed Hoster attacked him, throwing the landlord off the trailer’s porch and over a fence, and causing Drennen’s head to strike the ground. During the attack Hoster threatened, “I’ll Kill you, you son of a b**ch.” As Hoster was coming over the fence to continue the assault, Drennen drew a 9mm pistol and fired at his assailant, killing him. Following a trial, a jury found Drennen guilty of first-degree murder and assault and battery. Drennen was sentenced to life in prison

The opinion issued by the Wyoming Supreme Court overturning Drennen’s conviction faults the prosecution for misrepresenting Wyoming self-defense law to the jury. The opinion cites examples of the prosecution repeatedly mischaracterizing Wyoming law to make it seem as though it is unlawful to kill an unarmed assailant under any circumstances. For example, in their opening statement, the prosecution remarked, “there’s one general rule that shines through no matter what the scenario is: you do not shoot an unarmed man. You don’t do it.” More egregious was the prosecution’s closing statement, which noted, “We respectfully request that you go to deliberations and that you return with a verdict of guilty, because you see: in the state of Wyoming, there is a law against shooting an unarmed man.”

Citing a prior case, the Supreme Court opinion characterizes the actual nature of lawful self-defense in Wyoming, stating, “It is for the jury to determine whether a defendant reasonably perceived a threat of immediate bodily injury under the circumstances and whether the defendant defended himself in a reasonable manner.” This is followed by the Supreme Court explaining “assertions [by the prosecution] that Wyoming law prohibits shooting an unarmed man were inaccurate.”

After Drennen’s original conviction was thrown out, a new trial date was set for March 24, 2014. Then, on December 16, 2013, the Fremont County Attorney’s Office filed a lesser charge against Drennen of possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent. However, two days later, Fremont County Attorney H. Michael Bennett announced that he was seeking the dismissal of all charges, citing new forensic evidence and a respect for lawful self-defense. In the December 18th press release, Bennett noted, “The law regarding self-defense is clear, requiring the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gabriel Drennen did not act in self-defense.” On December 19th, Drennen exited the Fremont County Detention Center as a free man.

The Wyoming Supreme Court’s opinion in this case, and the actions it helped bring about, should serve as an important clarification on the contours of self-defense law in Wyoming. Further, this case should serve notice to prosecutors throughout the country that mischaracterizations of self-defense law in pursuit of convictions will not be tolerated. Following the outcome in this important case, those who exercise their lawful right to self defense can breathe a little easier.

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit:

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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Wyoming
KEYWORDS: banglist; drennen; selfdefense; wy
Nice to see that the Prosecutor was finally overturned, but hard to believe that he will not suffer any punishment for his malfeasance.
1 posted on 01/27/2014 3:06:52 PM PST by marktwain
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To: marktwain

Seems like charges could and should be brought against the prosecutor.

2 posted on 01/27/2014 3:11:59 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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To: marktwain
Where does the accused go to get his life and reputation back?

It's good that he isn't in prison for life, but he's still pretty well screwed by the system. He should be made whole.


3 posted on 01/27/2014 3:17:19 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: TigersEye

Prosecutors have almost complete immunity in such cases. In Washington State, a person can recoup legal costs incurred if he is found not guilty, but that is the closest that I have seen for any penalties outside of clear cut malicious prosecution.

The case seems very close to that.

4 posted on 01/27/2014 3:23:29 PM PST by marktwain (The old media must die for the Republic to live. Long live the new media!)
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To: marktwain

It seems very close to that alright. If any lawyer in the court should know and respect the law it ought to be the prosecutor who works for the state.

5 posted on 01/27/2014 3:28:38 PM PST by TigersEye (Stupid is a Progressive disease.)
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To: marktwain

I found an interesting article with a few more details about how things went down and the initial charges:

Apparently, Drennan tried to retreat after being chucked over the fence. He also shouted at the guy in warning before firing, and (according to Drennan) Hoster shouted “Shoot me!” at him. (One guesses in defiance?)

Also, part of the prosecution’s case was apparently that “common sense” dictated that a reasonable self-defense shooting would involve only pulling the trigger once or twice (Drennan fired 5 shots, hitting with 4 of them). That was thrown out too, apparently.

6 posted on 01/27/2014 3:31:29 PM PST by DemforBush (A Repo Man is *always* intense.)
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To: marktwain


7 posted on 01/27/2014 3:35:17 PM PST by BraveMan
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To: marktwain

The prosecutor’s comments seem an odd justification for overturning a conviction. The job of the judge is to correct misstatements by either side so the jury understands the law. And isn’t it the job of the defense to object when the prosecution oversteps?

8 posted on 01/27/2014 3:44:11 PM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: marktwain

Folks in that Wyoming area need to vote out that DA. It is pro crime to go after a self defense case

9 posted on 01/27/2014 3:54:36 PM PST by SeminoleCounty (Amnesty And Not Ending ObamaCare Will Kill GOP In 2014)
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To: marktwain

The decision of whether to initiate a retrial fell on Bennett, the Fremont County attorney, who was not the prosecutor the first time.

They elected a new DA. Elections have consequences.

10 posted on 01/27/2014 3:55:31 PM PST by Valpal1 (If the police can t solve a problem with violence, they ll find a way to fix it with brute force)
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To: Sherman Logan

Perhaps the judge did not correct him.

11 posted on 01/27/2014 3:56:13 PM PST by marktwain (The old media must die for the Republic to live. Long live the new media!)
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To: marktwain

Classic example of prosecutorial abuse and criminalit.
Unfortunately as has been pointed out DA’s enjoy a
virtual carte blanche of immunity. You are quite literally
more likely to win the Superlotto jackpot than to actually
see a DA face justice for their criminality. On those
rare instances where a wronged plaintiff is recomensed
financially it is the usual victim....the taxpayer....who
pays, not the criminal in a thousand dollar suit.
DA’s, like so many blackrobed pirates infesting the bench
need to swing from lampposts for these abuses. If this were
to happen we’d see far fewer instances of judicial abuses
by the state and judiciary. Vigilantism is rapidly becoming the ONLY recourse left for citizens.

12 posted on 01/27/2014 4:27:45 PM PST by nvscanman
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To: marktwain

Juries don’t have to follow “the law”.

If the jury thinks it was justified self defense they can acquit - law or no law.

Its called jury nullification.

13 posted on 01/27/2014 4:29:47 PM PST by DB
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