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People v. Aiken

New York Court of Appeals
828 N.E.2d 74 (2005)


Aiken (defendant) and his neighbor had lived in the same Bronx apartment building for nearly 40 years. Until 1995, the two had been friendly and close. After that, however, the neighbors had a falling out. After one heated verbal exchange between Aiken and the neighbor in 1997, the neighbor stabbed Aiken in the back, hospitalizing him for two days. Thereafter, the neighbor repeatedly threatened to shoot, stab, or otherwise injure Aiken. After arguing through a shared bedroom wall one evening, Aiken took a metal pipe and knocked an indentation into his side of the wall. The neighbor then left his apartment to open the apartment building’s front door for police. When the neighbor came back down the shared, common hallway, he encountered Aiken who stood in his apartment doorway, still holding the metal pipe. The neighbor went up closely to Aiken and said he was going to kill him. Believing he was about to be stabbed again, Aiken struck the neighbor on the head and killed him. Aiken was charged with murder. At trial, defense counsel requested that the court instruct the jury that a defendant has no duty to retreat into his home if he is in close proximity to the threshold of the home. The court denied the request and the jury convicted Aiken on a lesser charge first-degree manslaughter. Aiken appealed and the Appellate Division affirmed the conviction. The New York Court of Appeals granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)

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