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State v. Gartland

Supreme Court of New Jersey
694 A.2d 564 (1997)


Ellen Gartland (defendant) suffered a long history of abuse from her husband, John Gartland. On February 8, 1993, the Gartlands were arguing in their home when Ellen left the room and went upstairs to her bedroom. The Gartlands had slept in separate bedrooms for over 10 years. John usually left Ellen alone in her room, but this time he followed her into the bedroom. John moved toward Ellen, threatening to hit her. Ellen pointed a shotgun at John, telling him to stop. John threatened to kill Ellen and charged at her. Ellen shot John, killing him. At trial, the court provided the jury with a model jury charge on self-defense, instructing the jury that Ellen could not assert self-defense if she knew that she could avoid the necessity of using deadly force by retreating from the house, provided that she could do so with complete safety. Ellen objected to the charge, because the court did not instruct the jury that Ellen had no duty to retreat if her bedroom constituted a separate dwelling into which her husband had intruded. The jury convicted Ellen of reckless manslaughter. Ellen appealed but died while the appeal was pending. The Supreme Court of New Jersey heard the appeal, finding that the case presented issues that were likely to recur.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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