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Fighting words.

On December 12, 2003, Freddie Johnson was trying to break up a fight in a Macon, Georgia, neighborhood when the altercation spilled into the front yard of Marshal Lee Wright's home. When Wright came out and told the men to leave, Johnson pushed him in the face and told him to mind his own business. When Johnson also threatened to harm the homeowner, and shoot into his house, Wright went inside, grabbed a shotgun, and returned to again order the trespassers to leave. Undeterred, Johnson approached Wright in a menacing manner and dared him to shoot. Wright fired a single blast, mortally wounding Johnson, who died at the scene.

According to the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, Johnson's criminal record included at least 21 arrests, mostly on drug charges. After the shooting, police found five pieces of crack cocaine in his car. They did not, however, find a weapon on the dead man, but Wright said he had believed Johnson was armed, and had fired to defend his home and family.

Prosecutors disagreed. Contending that it was a case of vigilante justice, they charged Wright with murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

During Wright's recent trial, witnesses called by his attorney testified about the extensive criminal activity in the neighborhood and vouched for the homeowner's reputation as a "hard-working, middleclass American." On the other hand, as assistant district attorney Eugene Felton Jr. acknowledged, many of those who testified for the prosecution had themselves been convicted of prior illegal activity.

On August 13, the Bibb County jury deliberated for about six hours before finding Wright not guilty on all charges.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Exercising The Right
Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 18, 2004
Words:276
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