Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Wyoming Man has Conviction Overturned and Charges Dismissed in Self-defense Shooting

Friday, January 17, 2014

On December 20, 2013, Gabriel Drennen’s lengthy legal odyssey, following the self-defense killing of Leroy R. Hoster, came to an end when Fremont County, Wyo., District Court Judge Norman E. Young signed an order dismissing the remaining charges against him. The move followed an October 1st decision from the Wyoming Supreme Court that overturned Drennen’s initial conviction for first degree murder. Drennen’s case, supported by NRA, is important precedent in ensuring Wyomingites are able confidently to exercise their right to self-defense. 

Drennen’s initial conviction for murder evolved from a dispute with Hoster, who was a tenant on trailer park property Drennen owned. On May 2, 2010, Drennen went to the trailer Hoster had been staying at to post “no trespassing” signs, following Hoster’s failure to pay lot fees. While Drennen was putting up the signs, an unarmed Hoster attacked him, throwing the landlord off the trailer’s porch and over a fence, and causing Drennen’s head to strike the ground. During the attack Hoster threatened, “I’ll Kill you, you son of a b**ch.” As Hoster was coming over the fence to continue the assault, Drennen drew a 9mm pistol and fired at his assailant, killing him. Following a trial, a jury found Drennen guilty of first-degree murder and assault and battery. Drennen was sentenced to life in prison

The opinion issued by the Wyoming Supreme Court overturning Drennen’s conviction faults the prosecution for misrepresenting Wyoming self-defense law to the jury. The opinion cites examples of the prosecution repeatedly mischaracterizing Wyoming law to make it seem as though it is unlawful to kill an unarmed assailant under any circumstances. For example, in their opening statement, the prosecution remarked, “there’s one general rule that shines through no matter what the scenario is: you do not shoot an unarmed man. You don’t do it.” More egregious was the prosecution’s closing statement, which noted, “We respectfully request that you go to deliberations and that you return with a verdict of guilty, because you see: in the state of Wyoming, there is a law against shooting an unarmed man.”

Citing a prior case, the Supreme Court opinion characterizes the actual nature of lawful self-defense in Wyoming, stating, “It is for the jury to determine whether a defendant reasonably perceived a threat of immediate bodily injury under the circumstances and whether the defendant defended himself in a reasonable manner.” This is followed by the Supreme Court explaining “assertions [by the prosecution] that Wyoming law prohibits shooting an unarmed man were inaccurate.”

After Drennen’s original conviction was thrown out, a new trial date was set for March 24, 2014. Then, on December 16, 2013, the Fremont County Attorney’s Office filed a lesser charge against Drennen of possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent. However, two days later, Fremont County Attorney H. Michael Bennett announced that he was seeking the dismissal of all charges, citing new forensic evidence and a respect for lawful self-defense. In the December 18th press release, Bennett noted, “The law regarding self-defense is clear, requiring the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gabriel Drennen did not act in self-defense.” On December 19th, Drennen exited the Fremont County Detention Center as a free man.

The Wyoming Supreme Court’s opinion in this case, and the actions it helped bring about, should serve as an important clarification on the contours of self-defense law in Wyoming. Further, this case should serve notice to prosecutors throughout the country that mischaracterizations of self-defense law in pursuit of convictions will not be tolerated. Following the outcome in this important case, those who exercise their lawful right to self defense can breathe a little easier.

TRENDING NOW
Another Week, Another Democrat Presidential Contender Out to Round Up America's Guns

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Another Week, Another Democrat Presidential Contender Out to Round Up America's Guns

A smart person learns from his mistakes. An even smarter person learns from the mistakes of others.  Beto O’Rourke, an unemployed Texan running for president, must not be too smart.           

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

No, Joe, Your Gun Ban Didn’t Work

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

No, Joe, Your Gun Ban Didn’t Work

Joe Biden has been out on the primary campaign trail working hard. Maybe a little too hard. “We got to let them know who we are,” he recently told a crowd of supporters at the Iowa State ...

Amnesty International’s Desperate Measure

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Amnesty International’s Desperate Measure

There are some odd dynamics in international relations. Countries in which people are not free serve on the UN Human Rights Council. Political considerations guide every action.  Of course, the NRA is a single-issue organization so ...

NRA Member Berated for Carrying Firearm

News  

Friday, August 2, 2019

NRA Member Berated for Carrying Firearm

NRA member Darrell Kennedy was on vacation with his family at Yellowstone National Park earlier this month when an anti-gun vacationer snapped a photo of his holstered firearm and tweeted out a hate message. “Sat ...

Sparking Dialogue or Sparking Joy: Competing Views on Gun “Buyback” Initiatives

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sparking Dialogue or Sparking Joy: Competing Views on Gun “Buyback” Initiatives

The Christian Science Monitor describes itself as “an independent international news organization” that wants to “help you to see news events as starting points for constructive conversations.” Its editorial board recently published an article, A seed for society’s ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Tell Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Oppose Gun Control

News  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tell Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Oppose Gun Control

In the wake of the recent two criminal mass attacks, a number of gun control proposals have begun to circulate in our nation’s capital. None of these proposals would have prevented the recent tragedies, but they all ...

Important Statement from NRA CEO & Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre

News  

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Important Statement from NRA CEO & Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre

The NRA will work in good faith to pursue real solutions to the epidemic of violence in America.

Bill Clinton Touts Failed Gun Ban With Bogus Info

News  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bill Clinton Touts Failed Gun Ban With Bogus Info

Bill and Hillary Clinton just don’t draw like they used to. Shunned by much of his own party, (described by one Vanity Fair commentator as “2020’s bubonic plague”) the former president has been relegated to providing lazy ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.