Ohio Supreme Court declines to hear Castle Doctrine appeal; Man who acted in self-defense is free

by Chad D. Baus

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Ohio Supreme Court (OSC) has declined to hear the case of a 55-year-old Cleveland homeowner convicted in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court last year of killing an intruder.

In 2010, Carl Kozlosky was convicted by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court jury and sentenced last year to 18 years to life in prison for the shooting death of Andre Coleman on Sept. 20, 2009.

Last fall, the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Kozlosky, saying there was overwhelming evidence that he had acted in self-defense.

"Under the law, this was not a crime, and Mr. Kozlosky served a year in jail that in our view he should not have served," Kozlosky's appellate attorney, Timothy Sweeney, said at the time of the appeals court ruling in September, 2011.

According to The Plain Dealer, Kozlosky emptied a .38-caliber revolver into Coleman after Coleman broke into his house and began beating up Valerie McNaughton, who was Coleman's girlfriend. Kozlosky testified at trial that he thought Coleman was reaching for a gun when he fired, although no gun was found.

The article also quoted from court testimony which stated that Coleman, who had previously been convicted of aggravated murder, had been on an all-night crack binge when he broke down the back door of Kozlosky's Cherokee Avenue home to get money or drugs from McNaughton.

Citing Ohio's Castle Doctrine law, appellate judges Patricia Ann Blackmon, Kenneth Rocco and Eileen Gallagher seem to prefer the charges be dropped altogether. Prosecutors appealed the ruling, hoping to get it overturned. At the time of the appeal, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said "I believe the Supreme Court should review this case to interpret the new law and clearly explain the use of the Castle Doctrine in Ohio."

And by refusing to hear Mason's appeal, that is exactly what the the state Supreme Court has done.

After the OSC's announcement, Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutors Matthew Meyer said "The Castle Doctrine gives a presumption people can defend themselves in their home. In some cases, the government has to overcome the presumption."

Added Timothy Sweeney, Koslosky's appellate attorney, "The Ohio Supreme Court's decision is certainly good news."

The Plain Dealer says prosecutors will review the evidence to determine if they will bring new charges against Kozlosky. He has been free since Nov. 2 after posting a $10,000 bond.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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