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Oakland Criminal Defense Blog

Jury to Decide Oakland Man’s Fate in First-Degree Murder Charge

On June 2, 2011 50-year-old Leo Dunson was shot and killed during an argument with Donald Britton, brother of Dunson’s neighbor Chantelle Britton.  Dunson had allegedly been stalking Chantelle, according to a news article at CBS.  Britton, 38, has been charged with first-degree murder in the incident, which he claims he committed “to protect his sister from the person who had been stalking her.”

In August of 2012, Chantelle Britton was interviewed by police; during her interview, she said that she felt like her life was in danger, and that Dunson had been stalking her.  Britton allegedly called her brother in June of 2011 to ask him to come and talk to Dunson.  Upon his arrival, Donald Britton gave her a hug as she pointed out her neighbor.  According to Oakland Police Sgt. Sean Fleming, Chantelle Britton saw her brother and her neighbor standing one to two feet apart; when she turned away just seconds later, she heard a gunshot.

Fleming also said that when Britton asked her brother later that same day why he shot Dunson, he said that she was his little sister, and that she should not have to deal with that.  Chantelle also revealed that upon seeing her brother in West Oakland later that day, he had apparently tried to alter his appearance by cutting off his dreadlocks.  He escaped capture by authorities until August 1, 2012, when he was arrested at the Walmart store in Carson City, Nevada where he worked.  Britton has remained in jail since that time, but has never spoke of shooting Dunson in self-defense until recently, according to a news article at Insidebayarea.com.

Authorities also say that more than 5 1/2 hours of in-person and telephone interviews make no mention of self-defense, and that all Britton spoke about was how it would never be proven by prosecutors that he was the one who shot Dunson.

While on the stand during his trial, Britton testified that he and the victim became involved in a fight, and that Dunson attacked him, choking him; this is when Britton allegedly pulled out the gun and fired it, striking Dunson in the head.

Deputy district attorney Stacie Pettigrew said in news reports that the evidence proves that Britton and Dunson were some distance apart, and that Dunson was shot in the back of the head; witnesses also testified to this.

Kathleen Guneratne, assistant public defender, told the jury that the decision of whether Britton is innocent or guilty of first-degree murder should be made solely on the evidence, and whether prosecutors proved it was not self-defense, not on whether they believe Britton’s story or claim of self-defense.

Oakland murder defense lawyers know that in situations like this one, it is often difficult to determine whether the accused individual acted out of self-defense or rage.  Regardless of the motive, it is critical that anyone who is charged with a crime of this magnitude consult with a skilled attorney at once.

The penalties for first-degree murder are extremely severe, and may include a lifetime in prison.  If you have been arrested for any violent criminal offense or are being investigated, you must speak with a capable and experienced Oakland criminal defense attorney immediately in order to protect your freedom and future.

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