New Orleans, Louisiana

From the New Orleans Times Picayune of March 28, 2007

Shooting of son ruled justified

Defense notes victim arrived with a gun

A New Orleans man who shot his son five times after an argument, leaving him paralyzed and in a wheelchair, acted in self-defense, a jury decided Monday evening.

James S. Frazier, 50, who spent a lifetime in the U.S. Marines, is free from the criminal charge of attempted second-degree murder for the March 21, 2005, shooting at the eastern New Orleans apartment building where he lived.

The jury believed the elder Frazier’s story that the violent incident was all in self-defense, because the son had brought a 9-mm handgun to his father’s apartment that night.

James Frazier wasn’t injured, and no evidence showed the son ever successfully fired his handgun. The gun jammed, and no bullet came out. Eric Frazier was left bleeding on a third-floor landing.

The defense said that James Frazier, a 29-year veteran of the Marines, feared for his life after his son pointed a gun at him, so he went into his bedroom and returned with a .45-caliber handgun, which he blasted repeatedly at his son, who is now 23 years old.

After about 1 1/2 hours of deliberating, jurors acquitted the father, finding he acted in self-defense and that the son started the conflict.

“You bring a gun, you act like that, you have to pay a price,” defense attorney Martin Regan argued Monday during closing arguments. “If you want to kill him, you put a bullet through his head or his heart.”

The four-day trial at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court included much testimony about the broken relationship between the son and father, complete with allegations that James Frazier was more deadbeat than dad and that he abandoned his children when they were toddlers.

Regan went after the son, depicting him as a liar who wanted his father in prison for leaving him paralyzed. The jury heard that Eric Frazier had spent time locked up in a juvenile facility as a teenager, having made threats to his mother and sister. Regan referred to Eric as “junior” and said he had “mental problems,” while repeating that his own client had no previous criminal record.

“This man loves his family,” Regan told the jury. “He thinks the world of them.”

(More)

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