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Pa. man sentenced for 1997 killing

June 02, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Proclaiming he acted in self-defense, Bryant K. Jefferson was sentenced Wednesday to serve from seven to 20 years in state prison for the 1997 shooting death of a borough man.

"I am totally innocent. ... That young man pulled that semiautomatic on me," Jefferson, 39, of Harrisburg, Pa., told Franklin County Judge William H. Kaye after he had been sentenced for voluntary manslaughter in the Oct. 6, 1997, shooting of Charles Green.

"I went immediately to the authorities," Jefferson said. "I did everything I was supposed to do as a citizen."

Green, 22, of 18 W. Catherine St., died of a single gunshot wound to the chest after a confrontation with Jefferson in front of Green's home.

Jefferson was convicted in a February jury trial in which there was conflicting testimony as to whether Green was armed. Police found no gun at the scene.

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During the two-day trial, witnesses testified to a chaotic scene after the shooting. A police officer said pepper spray was used to control some of the people who gathered around the scene.

One neighbor said he saw people going through Green's pockets immediately after he was shot. The same witness said he saw a man walking down the street with a handgun minutes after the shooting.

Jefferson testified that Green pulled a gun and that he used a handgun belonging to his fiancee, Gayle Jones, to defend himself.

Jones and two other people in the car Jefferson had driven to the house also said Green was armed.

Other witnesses to the shooting testified Green was unarmed.

Jones testified the shooting arose from an earlier argument with one of Green's cousins about a house she had rented to him. Jones said she had told police about suspected drug activity at the house.

"This was a dangerous young man. Everybody knows it," Jefferson said of Green. He said Green had been involved in a shootout before he was killed.

According to police records, Green and another man had been wounded in a drive-by shooting on July 20, 1997.

Assistant District Attorney Jill McCracken disagreed with Jefferson's characterization of Green.

"I don't think any of us knew Mr. Green to be a dangerous man," she said. "We knew him to be an unlawful man."

McCracken said Green had a history of arrests for drugs but not for violent crime.

Defense attorney William Tully asked Kaye to consider a shorter sentence of about five years, the mandatory minimum because of a deadly weapon enhancement in the case. He said the jury's verdict was based on "imperfect justification," in that Jefferson used deadly force, wrongly believing his life was in immediate danger.

Tully said Jefferson will have to decide in the next 10 days whether he wants to file post-trial motions for a new trial or modification of sentence.

Kaye ordered Jefferson to pay a $300 fine and $5,070 in restitution to Green's mother in South Carolina for his funeral bill. No members of Green's family were present at the sentencing.

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