UPDATE: Judge dismisses murder charge without defense having to present evidence in trial
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A judge dismissed a murder charge against Adam Lee Kuhn Thursday in the middle of the trial, without the defense even having to present its case.
Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman issued a “directed verdict” when prosecutors finished their case, ruling that Kuhn was acting in self-defense when he shot Frank “Buzz” McCaslin near Churchill Downs last year.
Defense attorney David Lambertus asked that the case be dismissed after the prosecution finished putting on evidence in the trial, which is normal. However, it is rare – especially in a murder trial – for a judge to grant a directed verdict and not allow a jury to hear the case.
Lambertus argued that "it is beyond dispute" that Kuhn had been stabbed in the back in his home by McCaslin, which led to the shooting, according to a video of the trial.
"It started in his house," Lambertus told the judge, arguing Kuhn has a right under the law to protect himself. "He has a specific right to defend his home and children."
Assistant County Attorney John Balliet told McDonald-Burkman that while he agrees Kuhn has "no duty to retreat," but he isn't allowed to pursue the victim.
McCaslin tried to get away, but "he didn't make it," Balliet said.
The judge ruled that McCaslin was the aggressor and "this was an unprovoked stabbing" of Kuhn.
It was reasonable to believe that Kuhn had to use lethal force to protect himself and his daughter, McDonald-Burkman ruled.
"I think he is entitled to immunity from prosecution based on the evidence," she said in court.
McDonald-Burkman said she had never granted a directed verdict in a murder case before, but had "never seen a case like this before."
Police have said the men were fighting and Kuhn pulled a gun and chased McCaslin as he ran from the home. Kuhn "stood over the victim and fired additional gunshots,” according to police.
McCaslin died at the scene.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the office, said prosecutors are “still evaluating” the judge’s ruling and are not commenting right now.
Defense attorney David Lambertus does not speak with the media.
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