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Illinois Law, (720 ILCS 5/7-1) Sec. 7-1: A person is justified in the use of force when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself against the imminent use of unlawful force.  However a person is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such forces is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

In order to address this issue, we must ask ourselves the question: Is killing another human being ever justified? There is only one situation in which killing another human being is justified, if one is acting in self-defense, then one can kill.

Police and soldiers are justified in killing another human being if and only if they are preventing that human being from attacking them or someone else. Lethal force can only be used as a last resort in one’s self-defense or in the defense of someone in immediate danger.

People v. Lynch

470 NE 2d 1018 - Ill: Supreme Court 1984

"A victim's aggressive and violent character may tend to support a theory of self-defense in two ways:

  • First, the defendant's knowledge of the victim's violent tendencies             necessarily affects his perceptions of and reactions to the victim's behavior. The same deadly force that would be unreasonable in an altercation with a presumably peaceful citizen may be reasonable in response to similar behavior by a man of known violent and aggressive tendencies. One can only consider facts one knows, however, and evidence of the victim's character is irrelevant to this theory of self-defense unless the defendant knew of the victim's violent nature, which is not the case here.                       
  • Second, evidence of the victim's propensity for violence tends to support the defendant's version of the facts where there are conflicting accounts of what happened. In this situation, whether the defendant knew of this evidence at the time of the event is irrelevant. If the jurors could see for themselves exactly what the defendant saw at the time, such circumstantial evidence would be unnecessary.

However, the evidence of what happened here, as is often the case where self-defense is raised, is both incomplete and conflicting. Everything happened in an instant during which the defendant, according to his testimony, fell off a dresser while getting out his gun and firing it. The witnesses could hardly analyze the scene in any great detail, or remember and describe it with precision. They could only form quick impressions. To decide what really occurred the jury needed all the available facts, including evidence of Howard's prior convictions for battery.

The convictions were important to the defendant's case, however. They might have affected the jury's judgment of how credible the various versions of the facts were, and they would have helped to complete the picture provided by the testimony. This could have affected the decision as to whether the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances. 

We hold that when the theory of self-defense is raised, the victim's aggressive and violent character is relevant to show who was the aggressor, and the defendant may show it by appropriate evidence, regardless of when he learned of it."

The Judge in Denny's case didn't allow in the following charges and Orders of Protections.  These are from just the last ten years.

2/2009 Domestic Battery (victim roommate) - allowed in by Judge
2/2009 Order of Protection filed by roommate - allowed in by Judge
4/2007 Domestic Battery (victim roommate) - NOT allowed in by Judge
4/2007 Order of Protection filed by roommate - NOT allowed in by Judge
8/2006 Domestic Battery
(victim roommate) - NOT allowed in by Judge
Order of Protection filed by roommate - NOT allowed in by Judge
Order of Protection filed by roommate - NOT allowed in by Judge
Domestic Battery (victim ex-wife) - NOT allowed in by Judge
6/2002 Order of Protection filed by ex-wife - NOT allowed in by Judge
6/2002 Order of Protection filed by daughter - allowed in by Judge

Tony's record also included Aggravated Assault, Resisting a Peace Officer and Battery, none of which were allowed in by the Judge, there were also several Police Reports for battery that were filed against him, also not allowed in by the Judge.

 Read about the specifics of the People v. Lynch case below

Paul Lynch , Sr. (the defendant), shot Lester Howard in the head, and was tried for murder in the circuit court of Lake County. He claimed self-defense; the verdict was voluntary manslaughter. The circuit court, following People v. Wolski (1980), 83 Ill.App. 3d 17, excluded evidence of the victim's three convictions for battery, because the defendant was unaware of them when he shot Howard. The appellate court affirmed in a Rule 23 order (87 Ill.2d R. 23) on a different ground that the defendant waived the admissibility of those convictions by failing to make an offer of proof (117 Ill. App.3d 1162). We allowed the defendant's petition for leave to appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 315), and we now reverse and remand for a new trial.

Much of the evidence was conflicting; we only sketch enough of it to put the legal issues in perspective. The defendant's son, Paul Lynch , Jr. (Junior), is physically and mentally handicapped. One day, apparently without authorization, Junior took Ernest Bell's car and wrecked it. Bell demanded money from the defendant for repairs. Negotiations broke down when the estimates turned out to be more than the Lynches could pay quickly. According to the defendant, Bell was very angry and said he would get his money or kill Junior.  Some time later, the defendant noticed, in front of Junior's apartment, a parked car that Bell had used when he visited the defendant. Fearing for his son's safety, the defendant went to the apartment. He had a gun in his pocket that he had planned to give Junior for protection, but had changed his mind. Junior, Bell, and Lester Howard, a friend of Bell's whom the defendant had seen sitting in Bell's car when Bell left the defendant's home earlier, were discussing the repair problem when Lynch arrived. Bell and Howard were both bigger than the defendant, and both had been drinking. Howard stood blocking the only door to Junior's one-room apartment while Bell paced up and down, the defendant sat on top of a dresser, and Junior on top of a small table. Howard made an angry remark, and the defendant told him that they would deal only with Bell. Howard started toward the defendant, but Bell stepped between them and Howard went back to the door.  About 15 minutes after the defendant arrived, Howard said, "I don't have to sit here and listen to this g____ b____ any further." The defendant testified that Howard lunged forward, reaching behind his back and beneath his coat with his right hand. The defendant thought that Howard was going to shoot him. Bell testified that Howard's hands were in front of him but admitted that he had told the police shortly after the incident that he did not see Howard's hands. Falling off the dresser, the defendant pulled his gun and shot once at Howard. Then he went to the door, gun in hand, and he and Bell stayed there while Junior and a neighbor went for the police. When the police arrived, the defendant went out to meet them, and Bell appears to have had a few seconds alone in the room with the body. The defendant was arrested. Bell was never searched. No weapon was found on Howard's body.  In his statements to the police and at trial, the defendant admitted the shooting, but claimed that he shot in self-defense. The testimony was conflicting about the progress of the negotiations and about the details of the events just before the shooting.