Police investigating overnight homicide in South City apartment; legal expert says it may have been self-defense
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A man was shot and killed inside a vacant apartment unit in the early morning hours on Tuesday, and the man who shot him, the property manager Shane Richmond, was charged with first-degree murder.
The shooting occurred in the Carondelet neighborhood off South Broadway near Bellerive Park just after 3 a.m.
Richmond was given no bond in court Tuesday.
According to police, Richmond was the property manager for a set of six units, one of which he lives in.
Court documents state Richmond told police he heard a noise in a vacant apartment, grabbed a shotgun and saw one of the apartments had a broken window.
“He said there was an individual inside kneeling sideways by a bench with his hands up,” stated the probable cause document.
Richmond said, “the victim then stood up and placed his hands in his pockets and started to make aggressive comments and move toward” him.
Then Richmond told police he shot the victim in self-defense.
Police identified the victim as 36-year-old Terrell Cunningham.
One legal expert, Anders Walker, a St. Louis University School of Law professor, said Richmond may have a case.
“If someone is in your apartment at 3:15 a.m., rustling around, I think you have a reasonable fear they might harm you,” said Walker.
Walker believes Richmond has a case for self-defense under Missouri’s castle doctrine laws. He said if somebody who is lawfully in a building fears somebody might harm them, they can use lethal force.
“If you’re in your home, just having a stranger in there that could harm you in any way is grounds to shoot,” he said.
Court documents reveal there was one witness who said the victim never stood up. It’s unclear where the witness was at the time of the shooting or how they saw it happen.
Police also said they never found a weapon on Cunningham, something Walker said isn’t necessary to prove self-defense.
“If it’s 3:15 a.m. in someone’s home or apartment, you don’t have to check for a weapon. What do you think they’re going to do?” said Walker.
According to court records, Richmond has not been convicted of any criminal offenses in the state of Missouri, and now he faces two felonies, including first-degree murder.
Walker said, from what he can tell, he’s got a good case.
“Should be a relatively easy defense to me,” Walker said.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Homicide Division directly at 314-444-5371, or anyone with a tip who wants to remain anonymous and is interested in a reward can contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).
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