HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man charged with second-degree murder has been convicted of a lesser charge in the shooting death of a man trying to retrieve a pickup truck caught up in a marital dispute.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Scott County jurors on Thursday convicted William Clinton Robbins of reckless homicide, which drops the potential maximum sentence from 15 years in prison to two.
Robbins, who had a state-issued handgun carry permit, acknowledged to prosecutors that it was a “mistake” to fire 17 shots toward the cab of the 2002 Dodge Ram. One of the bullets killed 20-year-old Nickie Ben Brumitte in December 2015.
Robbins’ niece had taken the truck belonging to her husband amid disagreements over divorce proceedings. The husband had summoned Brumitte and others to help retrieve the truck.
Robbins testified at trial that he didn’t know who it was trying to take the truck parked outside his house. He said he fired his gun mostly into the air and in an effort to disable the truck.
“It was a very stupid thing to do,” Robbins said.
District Attorney General Jared Effler pressed Robbins about whether he was “in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury that night.”
“No, I wasn’t,” Robbins replied. “It was a mistake.”
Prosecutors noted that handgun carry permit classes instruct applicants about Tennessee’s law on the use of deadly force and presented Robbins’ own test answers from his handgun safety course as evidence against him.
“He killed a young man over an old Dodge pick-up,” Pollard said in closing arguments. “In this case, you know that he knew better. He knew the proper use of force. He knew he could not use deadly force unless he was in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury.”
Robbins’ attorney, John Galloway, conceded that his client didn’t have the right to use deadly force, but argued that he hadn’t tried to kill anyone.
“He made a very bad decision,” Galloway said. “Mr. Robbins was at home in his underwear, minding his own business, and he was awakened by people pulling up to his house. In a couple of minutes, he made a bad decision.”
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com