Will Marc Wilson, a Black man, be able to claim self-defense in the killing of a 17-year-old teenage girl, Haley Hutcheson, in Statesboro, Georgia?
Less than a week ago, Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty for murder when he and his lawyers claimed self-defense in the murder of two men and injury to another. He’s now getting job offers from Republicans.
Now, the verdicts in those cases were not surprising considering Rittenhouse is white and Zimmerman is half-white. But in Wilson’s case, do we know for sure what will happen to him?
According to BuzzFeed News, Wilson’s case, which is not scheduled to go on trial until 2022, mirrors those of Rittenhouse and Zimmerman in some ways. He claims that a group threatened the life and safety of him and his [white] girlfriend.
From BuzzFeed News:
Around 1 a.m. on June 14, 2020, 21-year-old Marc Wilson, who is Black, and his 21-year-old girlfriend, Emma Rigdon, who is white, left a Taco Bell in Statesboro, Georgia. At a stoplight, they pulled up next to a pickup truck. Wilson’s lawyers say that at least one of the white teenagers inside the truck shouted the n-word and “your lives don’t matter.”
Wilson later told police that the teenagers in the pickup truck swerved in front of him, tried to knock his sedan off the highway, and threw an object that impacted the car with a loud sound that made him think they might be shooting at him. Wilson pulled out a gun and fired out his window at the truck. The bullet struck and killed 17-year-old Haley Hutcheson, who was sitting in the pickup’s backseat.
Prosecutors charged him with felony murder and aggravated assault, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and the possibility of the death penalty. Wilson claimed self-defense.
“Me and my girlfriend were very scared that night,” Wilson told police later that week, according to a detective’s testimony. “Everything going on in this country, I’m not going to let me and my girl get run off the road.”
After Wilson’s arrest in 2020, he was denied bail by Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael Muldrew coming to the conclusion that Wilson “poses a significant threat to the community” per the report from BuzzFeed News.
Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two people last year, was able to make a $2 million bond thanks to donations from supporters. I wonder if Wilson will get that same kind of support? Probably not.
But another question arises. Will a young Black man who is claiming self-defense for killing a white teenager carry the same gravity as a white man killing a black teenager? Will those same who supported Rittenhouse and Zimmerman come to his support? Will the people who called for Rittenhouse and Zimmerman to go to prison do the same for Wilson?
From BuzzFeed News:
Who is protected by such laws often depends on race, say the laws’ critics. In 2020, the United States Commission on Civil Rights released a study of racial disparities in Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, finding that homicides in which the shooter is white and the victim is Black were ruled to be justified 11.2% of the time, compared to just 1.2% of the time when the shooter is Black and the victim is white.
“What we do know, and what we cannot ignore, is that the same racial biases that have permeated our criminal justice system cannot be separate from this issue,” the commission concluded.
As Wilson awaits his trial date, he is still in jail according to the report from BuzzFeed News.
Until that time, it gives us all time to think if we think Wilson is justified in his killing of a white teenager. That time should also be used to raise awareness on the racial disparity in self-defense cases and who is actually “protected” by self-defense laws.