Saying there was no evidence of past aggression or statements threatening harm, a Horry County judge rejected a murder suspect's claims of "Stand Your Ground" for when he shot and killed his nephew.
On Tuesday, Judge Larry Hyman issued his ruling denying Roger Grate's request for Stand Your Ground protections related to the slaying of Darrell Doctor on Christmas in 2016.
“By all testimony, he was shot because he stuck his hand in his pocket,” Hyman said.
Prosecutors said Grate and his step-son, Gregory, got into an argument on Christmas Day. Doctor, Grate’s nephew, approached the two as they argued. The disagreement happened along a road outside of the Grate’s Loris residence.
Grate told Doctor that it was none of his business and told him several times to leave their area. Gregory and Doctor walked towards a truck.
Doctor then walked back towards Grate, who shot him in the head.
Grate maintains that he felt threatened and Doctor came to him in an aggressive manner. He also said Doctor had his hand in his pocket when he approached. Grate said he knew that Doctor owned a gun and didn’t know his intentions.
No witness testified to seeing Doctor having a gun on him when he was shot.
Hyman ruled that during the two-day hearing the defense failed to prove its case that Grate acted in self-defense.
“There is no statement or verbal offer to do harm to the defendant,” Hyman said.
There was also no evidence of past aggressive behavior by Doctor against Grate, the judge said. In fact, Grate testified that he didn’t have problems with Doctor before the incident.
His decision doesn’t end the case and the defense can still present self-defense claims to a jury. Assistant Solicitor Chris Helms said they plan for an August trial.
During Tuesday’s testimony, the state played an hour-long statement Grate gave to Horry County Police following the shooting. His statement was similar to one he provided on the witness stand on Monday and said he shot because he was trying to frighten Doctor.
“I was just trying to scare him because he had me scared,” Grate said in the recording.
When officers questioned Grate about how Doctor presented no substantial threat, Grate said he didn’t know what Doctor intended and he felt threatened.
“I didn’t mean for that to happen, I was just trying to scare him,” Grate said during the interview.