Stand Your Ground Defense in Road Rage Case
Some have called 69 year-old Martin Edward Zale a cold-blooded killer. Others, say he's a loving and devoted man who was in fear for his life when he pulled his gun and shot another motorist to death last month in Livingston County.
Either way, the case will be a complex one for the jury to sort out as the controversial "Stand Your Ground" defense will be used.
Zale appeared in District Court on Tuesday. His preliminary exam has been set for November 21st.
He's charged in the death of fellow motorist, 43 year-old Derek Flemming, who got out of his vehicle and confronted Zale after claims the elder man was driving erratically along a several mile stretch of Grand River Avenue.
The Lansing State Journal is reporting that Zale's attorney asked that bond be set to allow him to return home pending his next court appearance. The motion was denied. Zale has been in the Livingston County jail since the incident.
Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Rose fought to keep him there, claiming this was not his first incident of road rage and he could be a danger to the public.
"There's a level of unpredictability of what behavior may occur with a stranger on the roadway that will trigger a violent response again," he said.
Zale was involving in an incident in Livonia, according to police, where he is said to have slapped or punched another motorist who had followed him into a McDonald's parking lot. Zale, again, said he was acting in self defense. Those charges, though, are still pending.
Court records, though, show "both" men had been involved in altercations with other motorists, and that Flemming even threatened to shoot utility workers who were on his property.
While many question the Stand Your Ground defense, Zale attorney, Melissa Pearce, says there is plenty of evidence to convince a jury. She refused to disclose the strategy, though, saying she was not going to try the case in the media.
"He is a good man and he's got good morals and it would have taken something extreme for him to take this measure," she said.
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