Gun Stories: Fetter VS Powell
Once again, we are left with a case that shows how real live violence does not always rise to the level of lethal force. This case also shows how what we did prior to one event, can affect us in another. Being an advocate for self-defense in a nation full of violent criminals. The case of Bruce Fetter Vs Scott Powell shows how hard self-defense can be to prove. It takes Mr. Fetter’s truth and puts it against the prosecutor’s version of events.
Everyday we see cases of self-defense that make a small headline or a 3rd rate story line. Only to hear about it once and it is never seen or heard about again. That is until a prosecutor believes their version of events will be more believable to the jury than your version. Evidence can be interpreted in many ways depending on who is looking at it. Unfortunately, we have reached a point in our history where the truth is what someone perceives it to be. Rather than what it was or is and this case is an example of that.
We are asking our readers to view this case as an educational piece of what has happened. We would like you to comment on what you believe might have changed the jury’s opinion. As well as, what the defendant could have done differently to better prove his version of the events. Every self-defense case boils down to you being able to articulate the events that happened, the evidence that supports it, and what the prosecutor can prove.
Bruce Fetter Vs Scott Powell
Upon arriving home Scott Powell had gone to the basement to find his stash of marijuana. It was his intention to get high and relax. He quickly realized his stash was missing and immediately blamed Bruce Fetter Jr, who is married to his sister. Mr. Fetter and his wife was living with Mr. Powell at the time. Having smoked with Mr. Fetter multiple times in the past. Scott had come to the conclusion that Bruce was the one to steal his stash.
Scott then engaged in a verbal argument with Bruce about the marijuana that was missing. Bruce denied taking it, but Scott did not believe that to be true. In an attempt to end the argument, Bruce left the home and started to walk away. Scott continued to follow him using verbal insults and threats.
Scott eventually closed the distance between him and Bruce and was within fighting distance. At which point, Scott was then shot in the stomach with a 9mm handgun. It was at this point the argument had ended and the police and paramedics were called in.
Bruce Fetter’s Version
Bruce contends that when the argument took place, he had attempted to leave the premises. He also stated that while trying to get away from Scott. Scott had thrown multiple punches that all missed. He also stated that prior to Scott reaching him. He had drawn his firearm and fired a warning shot into the air. Scott ignored the warning shot and continued his advancement on Bruce.
Bruce was then forced to fire a single shot into the stomach of Scott, in order to end the conflict. The shot took place at point blank range and the firearm was pressed directly into Scott’s stomach. Bruce believed that his life was in danger when Scott got within striking distance. The two had a history of physical and verbal altercations that had led to previous violence. Upon firing the shot into Scott’s stomach, Bruce immediately put down the firearm and called 911. He contends that what he did was in self-defense.
Bruce was then charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment. The Judge in the case did not instruct the jury know of the “Stand Your Ground” law that would apply to self-defense. Instead the court found that because of the lack of evidence to support Bruce’s claim of self-defense that the “Stand Your Ground” law did not apply. Meaning there was no evidence that Scott ever through a single punch. Nor did the violence rise to a level that would require lethal force.
Instead it was believed that there was only pushing involved and nothing should have led to Bruce being in immediate danger of death or great bodily harm. In other words, Scott did not have a weapon or the ability to commit great bodily harm in the eyes of the court. Then there was also a previous incident that the jury was allowed to hear. That was that Bruce had stabbed Scott multiple times in a previous altercation.
Both of these claims were later appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court agreed with the original judge in both claims. They believed there was no grounds to instruct the jury on the “Stand Your Ground” law and that it was within the law to allow the jury to hear of the previous act. The purpose of allowing the previous bad act was used to establishing motive, intent, malice and absence of mistake or accident in the present case.
In short, the court found that Scott did not have the ability to commit death or great bodily harm. Along with the fact that Bruce likely intended to use the firearm as a way to end the argument. His history suggest that it was not a mistake or an accident when he shot Mr. Powell. What makes this case worthy of brining it to our attention. Is the fact that this type of self-defense happens, and it is not only costly but dangerous to firearm owners.
It is easy to think that what happened in our past will have nothing to do with what happens in our future. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Prosecutors will go to great lengths to use our history against us and even our social media. In the eyes of the jury Scott’s actions did not rise to the level of lethal force. They did find one thing in Bruce’s favor, that was they found him not guilty of the attempted homicide.
Bruce ended up being sentenced to 62 months to 12.5 years for the remaining charges. Bruce also had no legal coverage that would have supplied him with a top defense. That is not to say the outcome would have been any different. However, there may have been factors like disparity of force, or other issues that an expert could have explained to a jury. Even if he would have been found guilty, the sentence may have been lighter. The one thing every firearm owner must understand is just because a law is there to protect your rights. Does not mean you will be able to use it, if you don’t know the actions required for the law to apply.
RGD Reviews is an advocate for legal self-defense. I do not recommend anyone engage in self-defense unless their life is in fact in danger. As a firearm owner, you will be expected to not only know the laws but also how they have been applied in your state. It is not enough to know the words; you must understand what rises to the level of self-defense but more importantly what does not.
It is likely your life will be on the line when you are forced to defend yourself. Just as it is likely that your freedom will be on the line afterward. All of us must know, how our courts interpret self-defense and what criteria are being met for the law to apply. I also highly recommend that if you have taken the time to learn how to legally defend yourself. That you also take the time to make sure you and your family is protected afterward.