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Homeowner Acquitted of Murder and Manslaughter in Fatal Shooting Still Facing Weapons Charges

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND — We post many stories of citizens using deadly force to protect themselves both in and out of their homes and in most cases the investigation is ongoing.  This story is about one homeowner who claimed self-defense after fatally shooting an unarmed, intoxicated and threatening man in front of his home, and what has happened since the incident occurred just over a year ago in September 2019.

Prior to the day of the shooting the homeowner, Gregory Korwek, had hired Jeffrey Dickinson, 44, to perform carpentry jobs at his home.  Korwek recommended Dickinson to a friend, Justin Florenza, who hired and then fired him for drinking on the job. A dispute over money that Dickinson said he was owed by Florenza led to a five-day text exchange with Korwek.

The events culminated when an intoxicated Dickinson showed up on his scooter at Korwek’s home after making threats to burn down the house and harm a family member. The two men met in the driveway where Korwek told him that he wasn’t welcome before firing a fatal shotgun blast.

In a trial that lasted more than a week, prosecutors argued that Korwek acted too quickly, stating that deadly force is intended as a “last resort” instead of a “first impulse”.

The defense attorney claimed that Korwek was justified because Dickinson showed up drunk and angry after making threats. Peter O’Neill told jurors, “If it’s not justified under these facts…then there is no right to use self-defense.”

The jurors agreed, acquitting Korwek of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, saying that he was justified in using deadly force.

Dickinson was under the influence of alcohol and had traces of fentanyl and cocaine in his urine, according to a toxicology report.

Maryland has a “Castle Doctrine” which allows a person in their home to use reasonable force to deter or defeat a person who is forcibly entering their home. However, they also have a “Duty to Retreat” which says when outside the home the person defending themselves has the duty to retreat, unless doing so is unsafe or impossible. Given the possibilities, the jury could have easily decided that Korek violated the duty to retreat and was not justified in using deadly force again Dickinson.

A self-defense shooting, even on one’s property, isn’t always a clear-cut matter.  Laws can and will be interpreted differently by prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and juries.  In this case the old saying of “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six” worked out for the homeowner.

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