BIRMINGHAM, AL — When Darrell Hutton, 34, seemingly shot and killed four-year-old Taleayah Stafford in 2017, many assumed he’d be sitting in jail for a majority share of the rest of his life.
They’d be wrong.
The charges of murder and first-degree assault against Hutton were dropped, and there’s actually a pretty damned compelling reason why.
As AL.com reports:
Charges were dropped against a Birmingham man accused of killing a 4-year-old girl after a judge ruled he fired in self-defense at the car the child was inside. Darrell Montez Hutton, 34, was charged with murder and first-degree assault for a July 2017 shooting that left 4-year-old Taleayah Stafford dead, and 68-year-old Shirley Jackson Hollonquest wounded.
Hutton on Monday faced a Stand Your Ground hearing, where his attorney asked that Hutton’s charges be dropped.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Virginia Vinson issued an order Tuesday morning dismissing the charges. She wrote in her order, “Without question the defendant found himself in a position where he was in imminent fear of his life and was justified… to defend himself.”
So, what has a young child to do with the above?
Well, Hutton was in a car a the time of the shooting. He was attacked in the car, and had to fight his way out. He actually was able to repel his attacker, Anthony Fowler, but the moron kept trying to get his gun to fire even as he tried to run away, ensuring he presented himself a deadly threat even in retreat.
Little Taleayah Stafford was in the car Fowler launched his attack from.
In other words, Fowler made himself a threat knowingly while a toddler was right behind him, had a chance to de-escalate the situation he himself created, and blew it. In fact, AL.com further reports almost 20 casings were found near the car where the child was sitting.
Hutton was just trying not to die.
Hutton testified during the hearing yesterday. He said on the day of the shooting, he was a passenger in someone’s car. The car was parked, court records state, and he had the window down. Hutton said Fowler walked up to the car and put a gun to Hutton’s head, pulling the trigger several times. But, the gun didn’t go off.
Hutton said he pushed open the door and knocked Fowler over, and pulled his own 9 mm gun, court records state. Fowler ran away and kept trying to shoot, but his gun misfired. Hutton admitted to firing at Fowler, saying he was afraid for his life and was defending himself.
And of course, in Alabama’s “Stand Your Ground” law:
Legislators also added a provision that says a person who is justified using force, including deadly physical force, “is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the force was determined to be unlawful.”
Now, Hutton will have to live with the nightmare that transpired that involved him, but in no way is that his fault.
But it actually gets crazier.
Contrary to perception, Hutton turned out to not have killed the young girl at all. He was carrying a 9 mm handgun. Fowler was carrying a .40.
The child died from the fragment of a .40 caliber bullet.
So not only did Fowler start a firefight with a child in the vehicle, but on top of that, he pulled the trigger on the shot that resulted in a toddler’s death.
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