Judge dismisses murder charge, DA appealing

Published 3:25 pm Thursday, November 19, 2015

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

SHELBY COUNTY—Circuit Court Judge Dan Reeves dismissed the murder charge facing 24-year-old Demetrius Watson on Nov. 17, finding him immune under the “Stand-your-Ground” law. The Shelby County District Attorney’s office has appealed the ruling to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.



Watson had been charged with murder after fatally shooting 40-year-old Lisa Langston, of Clanton, on Dec. 5, 2013. Reeves ruled that Watson “feared for his life” and was “acting in self-defense the night of the incident,” according to court documents.

In the document, Reeves cites several findings with his ruling, including:

  • The events occurred in an isolated neighborhood after Watson received a call from his brother warning of an “erratically behaving woman” approaching his property.
  • Watson encountered an unknown woman “on all fours, rolling around on the ground and acting very erratic.”
  • Watson “calmly and repeatedly” tried to get the woman to leave the property.
  • The woman “rushed towards him screaming that she was going to kill him.”

According to the document, Reeves found that Watson “reasonably perceived that this could have resulted in great bodily harm or death to him or a family member. For this reason, the defendant’s use of force is protected and immunized by the statue as he had the right to be present, was free from fault, and had the right to defend himself and others from serious bodily harm or death.”

The District Attorney’s Office appealed the decision Nov. 19. Most of the issues listed in the appeal relate Watson’s charge being dropped before a trial took place.

The issues recorded on the appeal concern whether the “Stand-your-Ground” law entitles defendants to a pre-trial ruling on immunity, whether a case with issues of disputed fact can be appropriate for pre-trial resolution, whether claiming self defense after shooting an unarmed victim is an issue for a jury to decide and if a case can be decided pre-trial if self defense and accident are simultaneously claimed.