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Woman who claimed 'stand your ground' defense gets life for killing unarmed man

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A woman using Georgia's "stand your ground" law told a jury that she feared for her life when she shot and killed an unarmed man who was in the parking lot of the apartment complex where she lived in southwest Atlanta.

But the jurors rejected her defense. And Shakeithia Wheeler, 32, was convicted and sentenced to life plus eight years in prison, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

On May 3, 2009, Wheeler shot Charles Roberson in the head in the parking lot of the Verdant Drive apartment complex, the district attorney’s office spokeswoman Ms. Yvette Brown said.

After Wheeler overheard an argument between her brother and another man outside, she exited her apartment with a gun and opened fire, grazing a woman who was standing nearby, Brown said.

Wheeler then began arguing with the same man who was arguing with her brother earlier, the spokeswoman said. As the argument escalated, Wheeler fired again, this time fatally striking Roberson in the head.

Wheeler claimed she had a right under Georgia’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law to fire both rounds because she had “no duty to retreat” in the face of imminent danger as the law allows, prosecutors said. Wheeler said she first feared her brother was in danger when she heard arguing outside. She then claimed she was in danger when she fired the second round because she thought the victim had a weapon and was going to harm her.

But investigators found no evidence that anyone else involved in the incident was armed except for Wheeler, Brown said. Witnesses said Wheeler was the aggressor in each instance.

A jury on Friday found Wheeler guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and weapons offenses in the death of Roberson, Brown said. She was immediately sentenced to life plus eight years in prison.