Phillip J Martin A new trial has been ordered for a Golden Valley man who was convicted in the shooting death of his neighbor. The Arizona Court of Appeals Division One has reversed Philip Martin’s second degree murder conviction and overturned his 16-year prison sentence. Martin, 62, admitted at trial that he shot Steven Schwartz, 55, as Schwartz approached his home in October, 2012. Schwartz died in Martin’s driveway from wounds inflicted when Martin fired his 12-gauge shotgun. The Appellate Court decision noted that Martin routinely placed railroad ties and other debris to cover rain related ruts that would develop in the dirt road that Martin and Schwartz used to access their homes. Schwartz removed one of the ties while driving home and was walking to Martin’s home to ask his neighbor about the dirt road debris. Martin testified at trial that he thought Schwartz was armed and fired in self defense when Schwartz ignored his demands to get off of his property and continued walking toward his home. The jury rejected the self defense alibi and convicted Martin. The Appellate Court ruled that the jury should have been allowed to consider another possible justification for the shooting. The Court ruled that the jury should have been able to consider that Martin acted reasonably by firing to prevent the crime of aggravated assault. Martin will be returned from prison to Mohave County. A second trial or a plea agreement can be pursued to resolve the case.

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