Pinson found guilty in “road rage” case

After just two days of testimony a Baldwin County jury found Steven Pinson guilty of assault in the second degree.  Pinson shot a tourist after a bout of what Orange Beach Police called road rage in August of 2012.

It took the jury just an hour and a half to return a guilty verdict against Ono Island resident, Steven Pinson.  The verdict returned convicts Pinson of assault in the second degree…the lesser of two charges he faced.  The other two options jurors considered were assault first or not guilty.  Pinson’s defense team has said all along that Pinson acted in self defense.

“We’re disappointed in the verdict however it seemed to turn on the degree of injury that was suffered by Mr. Hembree,” said defense attorney, Tommy Spina.

Assault second…a class C felony constitutes a lesser degree of physical injury than assault first.  The prosecution had pushed for the more serious charge but was satisfied with the verdict.

“This was not a self defense case.  This was not a stand your ground case.  You cannot shoot people because you’re angry and that’s essentially what the jury said…the same thing,” said Assistant District Attorney, ChaLea Tisdale.  “They backed me up and I appreciate them for it.”

There were no foregone conclusions in this case.  The prosecution called six eye witnesses to the shooting to testify.  One of those witnesses, John McGuire of Houston, Texas had probably the best vantage point of the scene.  He testified that he saw Hembree reaching inside of Pinson’s vehicle and then spit on him.

This became a key element for the defense.  The stand your ground statute within Alabama’s self defense law says that a person must feel he or she is either being assaulted or in eminent danger of being assaulted by an aggressor.  The defense told jurors that McGuires testimony proved that aggression on Hembree’s part.  Their verdict spoke otherwise.

“I think it was essentially the jury saying no matter what happens on the side of the road…you can flip a person a bird, you can call them a name, but the response should not be a shot,” Spina said.

The victim, Damon Hembree who also testified during the trial said he never was able to find out why Pinson acted the way he did on August 2, 2012.  Even as the trial came to the end, he still had questions.

“I’m not a hundred percent sure about a bunch of stuff.  I’d like to get my family home.  Thank y’all,” Hembree said as he led his family from the courthouse.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 12th.  The penalty could range anywhere from one to ten years in prison.  Hembree still has a civil case pending against Pinson.

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