A recent stabbing in west Las Vegas resulted in homicide charges being brought against Skylar Gerardo, a 26-year-old man from Las Vegas. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police arrested him in connection with the crime that took place in the early morning hours of May 22, 2021.
Marquise Williams was stabbed during a verbal altercation with Gerardo. Witnesses claim that Williams and a friend were checking up on Gerardo’s girlfriend, who had shared that she was being accused by Gerardo of cheating on him.
During the visit, an argument ensued, and Gerardo grabbed a butcher knife, stabbing Williams multiple times. Afterward, Gerardo claimed that he “felt threatened” and acted in self-defense, although he admits that he did not see Williams with a weapon.
When is Self-Defense Allowed Under Nevada Law?
Under Nevada law, was this a matter of self-defense?
Nevada is a “stand your ground” state, and state law allows an individual to use self-defense when they believe that an aggressor poses an immediate danger to them. Killing another person in self-defense is only justifiable to prevent an imminent threat of being killed, providing that no more force than necessary is used in resistance to that aggressor.
Several variables need to be established for a self-defense strategy to be successful. In this case, there are still many unknowns.
What brought these two men together at the time of the stabbing? Did they both have the right to be there? What circumstances led to the argument? What was said during the argument? Were there any other weapons involved besides the butcher knife?
If Gerardo saw no weapon, what made him believe his life was in danger? These are questions that the defense will need to establish answers for in order for Gerardo to be successful in a self-defense plea.
What Would Another “Reasonable” Person Do in This Situation?
Under Nevada law, one person can only kill another in self-defense, i.e., a “justifiable homicide,” if
- The fatally injured person was the aggressor.
- The danger of the situation was urgent.
- The non-aggressor believed that they were facing deadly harm.
- A reasonable person would fear for their life in the same situation.
- The non-aggressor was not acting merely out of anger or revenge.
Under Nevada Revised Statute NRS 200.130, a “bare fear” (unsubstantiated fear) does not justify killing another in self-defense. Although Gerardo claimed he felt threatened by Williams, there must be some evidence that Gerardo truly feared for his life and acted reasonably under the circumstances.
Burden of Proof
A plea of self-defense is an affirmative defense in Nevada, meaning that the defendant has the burden to prove that it was truly an act of self-defense. Did Gerardo have a reasonable fear of being killed, or did he overreact? If he unreasonably believed that he was acting in self-defense, i.e., an “imperfect” self-defense, he will still probably face criminal charges. Still, there may be some consideration in the way of a plea arrangement. This is where his defense team needs to consider all the options for the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with a crime in Las Vegas, LV Criminal Defense has over a decade of experience representing clients from misdemeanors to felonies. Contact us to see how we can help.