A California clerk was fatally shot by a robbery suspect, authorities say. The suspect won't be charged with murder.

Posted 57 days ago

From WWW.NBCNEWS.COM

A robber fatally shot a Northern California gas station clerk but won't be charged with murder because the victim wrongly chased and opened fire on the gunman, prosecutors said Thursday.

Ronald Jackson Jr., 20, was initially booked on suspicion of armed robbery and homicide in connection to the slaying of James Williams, 36, early Saturday at a Chevron station in Antioch, police said Wednesday.

Jackson and another man, who was still being sought Thursday, were fleeing the robbery when Williams chased and opened fire on them, police said. Jackson was struck in the leg and returned fire, killing Williams, police and prosecutors said.

Antioch detectives submitted their findings to the Contra Costa County district attorney's office, and prosecutors "elected to charge Jackson with robbery, possession of stolen property, and a firearm enhancement, but declined to charge him with murder," police said in a statement.

District Attorney Diana Becton remained silent on the matter until early Thursday evening when her office issued a lengthy statement, saying the decision to not file murder charges was based on a "legal and factual determination."

Becton said deadly force is legally justified as an act of self-defense when life or property is threatened, but not to go after someone to retrieve property once the threat of harm has subsided.

"In the eyes of the law, Mr. Williams' actions ceased to be self-defense when Mr. Williams pursued Mr. Jackson and the other suspect with a firearm — and continued to pursue Mr. Jackson after he shot him," she wrote.

Jackson has been charged with second-degree robbery, a special allegation of using a firearm in that crime and receiving stolen property worth more than $950 — crimes that could land him behind bars for as long as 15 years — but not homicide.

The decision stunned girlfriend and co-worker Annette Matamoroz, who was at the store when Williams was fatally shot.

"I totally disagree with this," a tearful Matamoroz told NBC News on Thursday. “It is murder. It doesn’t seem like murder; it is murder. What else could it be?"

Because Jackson has wounded outside the Chevron, a legal expert says the suspect could have argued he was leaving the scene and had a legal right to protect himself.

“Self-defense is a temporal concept. So in other words, had this event happened within the store, that would have been one thing," said Steven Clark, a San Jose criminal defense attorney and NBC Bay Area legal analyst.... (Read more)