BRIGHTON, Colo. — A 34-year-old man who contended that he shot three neighbors in self-defense was acquitted Thursday of one count of second-degree murder and two counts of assault.
David Guenther, 34, of Northglenn had once based his defense on Colorado's "make my day" law, which permits the use of deadly force against intruders, but shifted to conventional self-defense for this trial.
Guenther still faces trial next year for first-degree murder in the slaying of his wife--the woman he said he was trying to protect when he shot his neighbors--and the wounding of her male companion earlier this year.
Burden of Proof
A judge last year dismissed charges against Guenther in the April 19, 1986, shoot-out, citing the "make my day" law. However, the Colorado Supreme Court later ruled that the burden of proof was on the defendant and ordered Guenther to stand trial in Adams County District Court for second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault.
Josslyn C. Volosin, 26, was killed by a shot in the heart, and her husband, Michael, 27, suffered wounds to the thigh and wrist. Robbie Wardwell, 27, was felled by a bullet in the abdomen during the shooting.
Earlier that night, Michael Volosin, Wardwell and their friends, who had been partying at the Volosin home, had been rowdy and raucous in front of the Guenther house across the street.
Defense attorneys argued that Guenther fired his .357 magnum pistol in self-defense. He was afraid for his life and that of his wife, Pamela, and their two children, public defender Robert Perin told the jury in closing arguments on Wednesday.
The law was named for a line from a Clint Eastwood movie in which the actor muttered "make my day," apparently hoping for an opportunity to shoot a felon.