It's a first for a North Central Florida courtroom. Three years after legislation was put in place allowing a self-defense hearing before a trial, a judge oversaw one for the first time on the Eighth Circuit.
In a hearing Friday, Patrick Patton claimed self-defense on aggravated assault and attempted murder charges dating from a November incident.
If Judge Peter Sieg rules on behalf of Patton, the charges may be dismissed. If Judge Sieg rules on behalf of the State Attorney's Office, the case continues and may go on to trial.
"It saves a lot of individual resources," said Defense Attorney Robert Rush. "It saves a week of trial, preventing an innocent person from having to go through the rigors of trial."
State Attorney Bill Cervone said with witness testimony and video presentations, the hearing may as well be a mini-trial giving a defendant two chances to make a self-defense plea.
""Absolutely this will work to the benefit of an innocent person," said Cervone. "It will also work to a guilty person who we may be precluded from trying."
Judge Sieg said he will make his ruling before an October 29th pre-trial conference.
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