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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 12:00 am

Joey Weatherwax was armed with a 2-by-4 when his cousin, Micah Holland, shot him on Sept. 9, Holland’s attorneys claim. Holland is charged with murder.

The defense attorneys, Fletcher Long and John Herbison, filed a motion in Christian Circuit Court to dismiss the charges against Holland. They contend Holland fired in self-defense and he should be released unless the prosecution can prove the force Holland used was unlawful.

Holland’s attorneys are basing their self-defense claim on Kentucky’s “stand-your-ground” laws, which were revised by the General Assembly in 2006. Under the revised statutes, defendants are justified in using deadly force if they believe they are in danger of death or serious physical injury. In such situations, the defendant doesn’t have to retreat, the defense claims.

Christian Circuit Judge Andrew Self scheduled a Dec. 20 hearing to discuss the motion.

Holland is accused of shooting Weatherwax and running him over with a car outside a home on Old Palmyra Road. Police said Holland was upset because he believed Weatherwax loosened the lug nuts on his car.

Weatherwax was playing cards at the home of Kyle Cherry the night he died. Alvin Coggins, a witness, said Weatherwax and Holland had been arguing over the phone throughout the night. Coggins also said they had agreed to fight one another.

Cherry told police that Weatherwax threatened Holland repeatedly over the phone that night and that Weatherwax asked Holland to meet him somewhere so Weatherwax could beat him up. When Cherry told Weatherwax he didn’t want any fighting in his house, Weatherwax allegedly told Cherry he would take it to the street.

Holland came to Cherry’s house just after 3 a.m. Weatherwax jumped from his seat and ran into the street when he heard Holland’s car approach, witnesses said. Coggins, who was a few paces behind Weatherwax, was armed with a handgun, according to the defense’s motion.

Coggins told police that, after Weatherwax walked into the street, he heard a loud pop and saw Weatherwax fall to the ground. Coggins said Holland then ran over Weatherwax with a car.

After the incident, Holland told his father that Weatherwax had a gun when he walked into the street. He later retracted the claim, police said. Holland later admitted he shot his cousin in a conversation with his father, Steve Holland, police said.  

However, the defense claims that Micah Holland was justified in using deadly force because Weatherwax carried a 2-by-4 into the street with him when Holland arrived. Cherry said he removed the 2-by-4 from the scene before police showed up.

Cherry said him removing the 2-by-4 wasn’t an attempt to hide evidence. He claims he threw the 2-by-4 toward a nearby cornfield in disgust when he saw Weatherwax was dying. Cherry later produced the piece of lumber for police.

Holland’s wife, Christine, who was previously married to Weatherwax, said her husband and her ex-husband got into a verbal argument at Carr’s Liquor before to the shooting.

After the confrontation, Weatherwax allegedly called Holland and asked Holland to meet him. If he didn’t agree to the meeting, Weatherwax said he would kill Holland’s wife, the defense claims.

With Weatherwax and Coggins allegedly armed in the incident, Holland had the right to defend himself, the motion argues. Holland’s attorneys also claim Weatherwax’s alleged threats against Holland and his wife were reasons for their client’s actions.

Cherry waited until his second interview with police to mention the 2-by-4. The motion also doesn’t say if Holland knew Coggins was armed too.

Christian Circuit Judge Andrew Self on Wednesday lowered Holland’s bond from $1 million to $100,000. Long couldn’t say whether Holland’s family would be able to pay the lowered amount.

Self plans to study the defense’s motion to dismiss the charges before the Dec. 20 hearing. Because he is still weighing the motion, he couldn’t talk about it.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Pryor has turned over all the prosecution’s evidence to the defense, which is standard. After Holland’s bond hearing Wednesday, Long was dubious about the strength of the prosecution’s case.

“This case is a long way from a home run,” Long said.

REACH DENNIS O’NEIL at 270-887-3240 or doneil@kentuckynewera.com.

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