People v. Monroe
Sheila Monroe was convicted by a trial court of attempted murder and first-degree assault for stabbing a fellow passenger on a city bus. The trial court adjudicated her a habitual criminal and sentenced her to concurrent prison terms of 96 years on the attempted murder count and 48 years on the assault count.
Monroe did not testify in court, and her counsel argued she was acting in self-defense after the victim, James Faulkenberry, exhibited threatening behavior. The prosecution said she attacked Faulkenberry after he said he was going to call the police.
Witnesses testified that Monroe and the victim began arguing almost immediately after Monroe sat down next to Faulkenberry and that Monroe showed off her knife and said that a friend of hers, also on the bus, had a gun.
Monroe argued that the trial court erred when it allowed the prosecution to say that since Monroe did not retreat before using force, she could not say she was acting in self-defense.
The prosecution was found to inconsistently argue about the duty to retreat, which the court said made it likely the jury would convict Monroe without considering the actual elements of how self-defense can be used as an argument in court. The court reversed the trial court convictions and remands for a new trial.