BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A state appeals court on Tuesday ordered a new trial for a man convicted in a 2015 shooting in Elizabethtown.
In a 13-page ruling, the three-judge panel unanimously agreed the trial court “committed prejudicial error” in failing to instruct the jury it could find Marquail Dashawn McKoy, who was 16 at the time, not guilty if it found he acted in self-defense when he reportedly fired a shot at a man in March 2015.
McKoy was charged and tried on two charges: attempted first-degree murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied property.
According to evidence presented at trial, on the afternoon of March 4, 2015, McKoy visited a woman’s home to speak with her brother about fixing a tattoo. While there, McKoy got into an argument with another man, who was there with his infant son.
The two eventually split, but McKoy left through a side door of the home and pointed a revolver at the other man as he was trying to exit through the front door, according to the ruling.
“(The man) turned around and attempted to push his son and (the homeowner) back into the house,” the ruling states. “As (the man) was trying to get back into the house, he heard a gunshot and ‘felt the shot.’”
The bullet went through the man’s shirt, leaving a bullet hole in the fabric, and a screen door, ultimately lodging in the siding of the house. McKoy ran away after the shooting, but was later arrested by the Elizabethtown Police Department, who tracked him through his GPS-tracking ankle device, at a recreational department gym.
In his testimony during the three-day trial in May 2016, McKoy referenced an incident with the other man that happened around a week prior to the shooting. The other man, according to McKoy, along with McKoy’s ex-girlfriend (who was in a car outside the home at the time of the shooting) drove up next to him as he was walking down Martin Luther King Drive in Elizabethtown.
“Defendant testified that (the man) said, ‘Are you Marquail McKoy? I don’t need to see you around here. You better lay low’ before getting back into the car and leaving,” the ruling states. “Defendant felt threatened by these words.”
McKoy also testified the other man repeated this threat the day of the shooting.
“According to Defendant, (the man) told him on 4 March 2015, ‘Didn’t I tell you you better lay low? Didn’t I tell you I better not see you again?’ and that (the man) was ‘aggressive, loud and ‘crazy,’” the ruling states. “Defendant also stated that when he left the house through the side door and encountered (the man) by the front door outside the house, (the man) ‘lifted up his shirt; was going for the handle of—reached for a gun. Reached for his shirt. Grabbed it. Handle of the gun.’”
The jury ultimately found McKoy not guilty of attempted first-degree murder, but guilty of discharging a weapon into an occupied property. He was sentenced to 64 to 89 months in prison.
McKoy appealed, asserting the trial court erred by not instructing the jury it could find him not guilty by reason of self-defense. The State conceded his argument, according to the ruling. The appeals court agreed, pointing to McKoy’s testimony as sufficient evidence to submit the question of whether he acted in self-defense to the jury.
“We hold that the trial court committed prejudicial error, and Defendant is entitled to a new trial,” the ruling states.
Since the beginning of his prison sentence, McKoy, now 20, has been cited for 12 infractions for offenses ranging from disobeying orders and possession of unauthorized funds to fighting and being involved with a gang, according to N.C. Department of Corrections records.