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Thursday, February 13, 2020 1:00 am

Justifiable force filed over death

Woman charged with murder says she defended self

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne woman charged with murder argues in a court filing she was protecting herself when she shot the man she's accused of killing. 

Kennisha Jackson, 19, “was justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, when she reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent imminence of serious bodily injury to herself,” a notice of justifiable reasonable force filed by defense attorney Donald Swanson says. 

Police have said Jackson shot Diquan Meriwether, 19, in the chest Jan. 14 after he arrived at her Abbott Street home to collect money.

Meriwether – whose name is misspelled in the filing – struck Jackson in the face, “causing injury and stitches,” her lawyer wrote in the two-page notice filed Monday in Allen Superior Court.

“At the time of this altercation, (Jackson's) gun clattered to the floor and was used by (Jackson) in self-defense,” the document says. “After Diquan Merriweather was shot, he retrieved his gun and ran out of (Jackson's) home to a waiting get-away car.

“(Jackson) was not the initial aggressor in the altercation.”

The account is similar to one included in charging documents, but detectives who interviewed Jackson after the slaying said she told them Meriwether showed up at her house and brandished a gun. 

“He dropped the gun; she picked the gun up and shot him,” she said, according to a probable cause affidavit. 

Meriwether ran outside, collapsed near a car and died at a hospital.

Swanson's filing cites a portion of Indiana law that guarantees residents a right to self-defense and the “right of a citizen to protect his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual.” The law allows the use of force “to protect the person ... from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force.”

In Indiana, murder is punishable by up to 65 years in prison. Jackson also faces a sentencing enhancement for using a gun, and that could add 20 years to the sentence if she is convicted. 

A three-day trial is scheduled July 28.

mleblanc@jg.net


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