A jury Wednesday acquitted a Colorado Springs man accused of shooting a man outside his home, ruling the killing was self-defense under the state’s Make My Day law. Gary Lee Hill, 24, was accused of first-degree murder in the Sept. 5, 2004, killing of 19-year-old John David Knott. Knott was part of a group that had assaulted Hill in his home but was in his car when Hill shot him, testimony showed. The Make My Day law permits residents to use deadly force to protect themselves from intruders in their homes. Hill, 24, declined to comment as he left the courthouse. “He’s not guilty. Justice has been done,” said his mother, Kathy Jastrab. “He didn’t deserve to even be here. Those kids beat him and robbed our home. There was no reason for him to even be on trial.” The jury deliberated for about six hours after a twoweek trial that ended late Tuesday. Hill also was found not guilty of two counts of menacing. “He got away with murder,” said Knott’s sister, who would identify herself only as Tina. “He was my only brother. My kid’s only uncle. This is a sad day.” Members of Knott’s family were visibly furious, shaking with anger and crying. According to testimony at the trial: Hill shot Knott after getting into a fight with Knott’s girlfriend during a party at Hill’s home in the 500 block of Potter Circle. Knott’s girlfriend, Amanda Padilla argued with Hill over a missing purse, punching Hill before he got a rifle and ordered Padilla and her friend Allesandra Ash out of his house. The women returned with Padilla’s boyfriend, Knott, and Ash’s boyfriend, Anthony Padilla. The four went to Hill’s basement room where he was asleep and assaulted him. Amanda Padilla punched Hill in the head, opening a wound with brass knuckles. When they left Hill’s house, he got a high-powered rifle, loaded it and fired once from the porch into the car Knott was driving. Knott crashed the car into a house and died of a gunshot wound to the back. The jury foreman, who asked not to be identified, said jurors spent a lot of time discussing the law that allows people to use lethal force against an intruder. “That was the bulk of our deliberation,” he said. The foreman said the Make My Day law offers no clear “line” where an intruder must be before deadly force can be used. “We hope everyone understands this was a tragic case no matter what verdict we reached. There was no good outcome,” he said. Former state Sen. Jim Brandon, who helped write the Make My Day law, said the jury misinterpreted the law. “It’s a miscarriage of justice,” the Akron Republican said. “In our mind, the door is the threshold — an illegal entry. It doesn’t say down the street.” Defense attorneys Ted and Elizabeth McClintock defended the jury’s decision. “It was the right verdict. Gary went through this horrible and traumatic event,” Ted McClintock said. “They promised they were going to come back in. They had already come back once.” Deputy District Attorney David Webster said prosecutors accept the jury’s decision. “We presented the best case we possibly could,” Webster said. Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Kirkman said the way the Make My Day law is written, deadly force can be used “if the shooter reasonably believes the other person might use physical force against the home dweller.” “This is what the jury found, based on their notguilty verdict.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0110 or dennis.huspeni@gazette.com
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