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Jeffery Walker had had enough with his neighbor's defecating dog. When the pooch pooped in Walker's yard, he complained to his neighbor. Still the stinky trespass continued. He complained to the cops, but the feces kept piling up. Then one putrid day, Walker demanded that his neighbor come over and clean up after his canine. But, before the poop could be scooped, Walker ended up cutting off the man's arm with a machete.
Unfortunately for Walker, that feculent machete attack was a violation of his parole, and it landed him a five-year jail sentence, the maximum punishment available. The Sixth Circuit upheld that sentence on Monday, despite Walker's pleas that he was just acting in self-defense.
After serving 19 years in federal prison for drug charges, Jeffery Walker took up residence in Alabama, next to a neighbor with, evidently, a poorly trained dog. After a series of conflicts over the pup's poops, Walker demanded that the neighbor come over to clean up the yard. That's when things really went south.
Though the two men's accounts differ greatly, the Sixth Circuit notes, there's no question that Walker attacked his neighbor with a machete. The results weren't pretty:
Walker severely cut his neighbor's arm (requiring it to be amputated), shattered the neighbor's other elbow, slashed the neighbor's head, and severed a nerve in the neighbor's leg.
Though Walker claimed he was acting in self-defense, he was soon charged with attempted murder. That charge caught the eye of the federal government, who then accused him of violating the terms of his release. Walker admitted to committing an assault and was sentenced to the to the maximum punishment for violating his parole, five years in prison.
Walker, however, claimed that he should have been given the benefit of Alabama's self-defense law. It was a violation of the terms of his release, the Sixth Circuit noted, to violate Alabama's law, "whether attempted murder or run-of-the-mill assault."
Self-defense could not save him, since Alabama's self-defense law requires a "reasonable belief that imminent force is about to be used" before you can chop up your neighbor with a machete. An honest, but unreasonable belief does not cut it. And Walker's belief was "emphatically unreasonable." Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton writes that, even if Walker thought he was going to be attacked (with a stick his neighbor brought over):
Walker brought a machete to a stick fight and nearly killed his neighbor in the process -- all in a dispute over a canine trespass that, however often it may have occurred and however maddening it may have become, ought to have led to an alternative form of dispute resolution.
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