Catch-22: Man who killed intruder acted justifiably but will stand trial for illegally possessing the gun
Posted: 3:00 PM- Authorities have determined Danny Dutton acted in self-defense when he shot and killed a violent intruder at his Hurricane apartment earlier this year.
But in a case of legal Catch-22, Dutton has been ordered to stand trial for possessing the gun he used to kill Aaron Rondan Barbosa during a March 24 break-in.
Because of a 2004 felony conviction for cultivating marijuana, Dutton - a nephew of Hurricane Mayor Tom Hirschi - is prohibited from possessing firearms.
Following a June preliminary hearing, defense attorney Gary Pendleton filed a motion to dismiss the charge, citing case law recognizing that even a convicted felon may be entitled to use a gun in a life-or-death situation.
Deputy Washington County Attorney Eric Gentry countered that the motion was premature and that prosecutors are not required at this stage to negate Dutton's claim of self-defense.
Gentry also noted that during the preliminary hearing, the state had produced evidence that Dutton possessed the gun before, during and after the shooting, and was sufficiently aware of its location that he was able to immediately retrieve it.
Judge G. Rand Beacham last week agreed with prosecutors that the defense motion was premature, but he said the issue may be raised again prior to trial.
A scheduling hearing for Dutton is set for Sept. 13. If convicted of the second-degree felony weapons charge, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Dutton is also charged with three class B misdemeanor counts of illegal possession of a controlled substance in connection with prescription medication allegedly found by police at his apartment following the shooting.
The shooting episode began when Barbosa and another man knocked on the door of the apartment Dutton, 22, shares with a male roommate.
When Dutton answered the door, Barbosa entered and began beating Dutton with a metal pipe, breaking Dutton's arm, according to court documents.
Dutton shouted at the intruders that they had "the wrong man," but Barbosa continued beating Dutton, who retreated to the kitchen, grabbed a .357-caliber handgun and shot Barbosa.
The other man, Juan Gonzalez, fled in a vehicle driven by Lucinda Ann Corral, but later confirmed Dutton's version of events.
Gonzalez also told police that Corral and Barbosa were "discussing payment after the job was done," as they were driving to Dutton's residence, according to court documents.
Corral, 30, has pleaded guilty to second-degree felony aggravated assault and faces up to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 24 by Judge Beacham.
Gonzalez has not been charged, according to court records.
Also being prosecuted in connection with the shooting is Dutton's roommate, Shane Leland Norris, 27, and Bow-Dee Woodgeard, 20.
Norris is charged with third-degree felony drug possession, and class B misdemeanor counts of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Woodgeard, 20, who has a prior felony conviction for manufacture of a controlled substance, is charged with second-degree felony possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.
Meanwhile, Dutton has been charged in federal court with being a felon in possession of a handgun and ammunition on May 7 in Washington County, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.