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Texas School Stabbing Leads to Murder Charge

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 05, 2013 5:11 PM

A 17-year-old in Spring, Texas, has been charged in a fatal gang-related high school stabbing that has left one student dead and three others injured.

Luis Alonzo Alfaro has been charged with murder for allegedly stabbing a gang rival at Spring High School, north of Houston, with a pocket knife.

But could Alfaro potentially argue that he was acting in self defense?

Self Defense in Texas

Generally, self-defense is known as the justified right to counteract violence or force, to prevent an injury or harm and to protect oneself.

Self-defense statutes vary by state, but Texas' self-defense statute is akin to most others. In determining whether Alfaro acted in self defense, the following questions will be asked:

Was There an Immediate Threat?

Self-defense is only justified when it's used to prevent imminent harm. The threat can be verbal or physical, but must be imminent.

Here, Alfaro and the victim, 17-year-old Joshua Broussard, allegedly "exchanged words and shoved each other," reports the Houston Chronicle. When Broussard's friend punched him, Alfaro says he covered his face and started waving his pocket knife, possibly to fend off the imminent threat he perceived.

Alfaro's blind waving of the knife will be relevant both in determining his intent for murder in addition to his acting in self defense.

Who Was the Initial Aggressor?

If Alfaro provoked Broussard or initiated the fight first in an intense moment of heated gang rivalry, then he likely wouldn't be able to claim self defense.

While it's unclear who insulted and shoved whom first, the initial aggressor of a fight can rarely claim self defense.

Was It a Proportional Response?

Was the amount of force used proportional to the type of force it was meant to prevent? Fatally stabbing someone for verbally insulting you won't typically suffice as self-defense.

Did being outnumbered or being punched during a threatening confrontation warrant deadly force -- namely, a pocket knife to the jugular? That will be a question for the court to answer.

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