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Jury rules shooting self-defense

Originally ran here as:
"Doyle not guilty: Jury declares Hancock man shot father in self-defense"
by Bennie Shallbetter, Staff Writer
The Sea Coast Echo
February 08, 2002

HANCOCK, MISSISSIPPI -- Bobby Joe Doyle, 22, left the Hancock County Courthouse a free man late Wednesday afternoon, after a jury took about an hour to deliver a not-guilty verdict on the charges of murder or manslaughter.

Doyle was arrested on Oct. 8, 2000, after shooting his father, Rickey Doyle, with a .22 magnum single action revolver, during a fight between the two at the mobile home they shared between the Kiln and Dedeaux communities. Defense lawyer Donald Rafferty maintained that Bobby Doyle committed the act in self-defense after several physical confrontations initiated by his father.

Prosecutor Chris Schmidt maintained that because the two were not in an actual physical confrontation at the time of the shooting, that the act was one of deliberate malice, which would have brought a murder conviction; or an act of passion, which would have brought a manslaughter conviction.

Attendance at the two-day trial was sparse, with the courtroom being filled mainly with friends and family of the defendant, many who testified in his behalf. Judge Jerry O. Terry presided at the trial.

Witnesses painted a picture of Ricky Doyle as a violent man, who abused both alcohol and other substances, and fought with both of his sons on a regular basis.

A New Orleans pathologist, Dr. Paul McGarry, testified that a post-mortem report showed signs of methamphetamines, caffeine, nicotine, ethyl alcohol and diazepam, a tranquilizer, in Ricky Doyle's system.

On the stand, Bobby Doyle said that he had tried to end the confrontations by going in his room, but that his father had followed him in and hit him with a large piece of wood and the butt of a rifle.

Doyle said that he took the handgun off his bedroom shelf and headed out the door to walk to his mothers house, several miles away, but that his father followed him out the door, threatening to beat him or kill him. He said that he fired a warning shot at the ground near his father, but the man kept shouting threats and coming forward. Doyle then fired another shot at his father's left shoulder, he said to stop him, but the bullet hit a bone, turned, and went through both lungs and severed his aorta, causing death.

Doyle then testified that he threw the gun into his father's truck and ran to the neighbor's to call 911 and back to his father to try to perform artificial respiration.

"I didn't mean to kill my dad, I loved him," said Doyle

"We are extremely pleased with the verdict", said Rafferty after the trial Wednesday. "But it is kind of bittersweet because Bobby had to spend two-and-a-half to three weeks in jail waiting for the preliminary trial."

Doyle left the courthouse immediately following the verdict, with his attorney. Judge Terry instructed others in attendance to remain seated until he dismissed the trial.

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