Update: Rochester man found guilty of assault for shooting teen in groin
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(ABC 6 News) – Nearly four-and-a-half hours after prosecution and defense attorneys presented their closing arguments in the trial of Steven Hart on Friday, the jury reached a verdict.
Hart was found guilty of first-degree assault against a 15-year-old he shot in the groin. He was found not guilty of second-degree assault.
Hart and his lawyers argued it was an act of self-defense.
According to court documents, the victim and his friends admitted to vandalizing a bus stop and were running through a backyard when Hart confronted them.
Defense attorneys argued Hart was placed in a life or death situation when one of the boys pulled out a knife and allegedly ran toward him.
Witnesses for the defense testified the neighborhood has seen a spike in crime in recent years, and Hart regularly confronts individuals who trespass in his neighbor’s backyard. They say Hart, who’s had a firearm carry permit for 15 years, never before felt the need to draw his weapon.
Considering the teen would be stronger and faster than Hart, defense attorneys claimed he had no opportunity to retreat once the knife was pulled out, and, fearing for his life, Hart’s only option was to use force to protect himself.
The prosecution argued Hart didn’t need to involve himself in the situation and provoked the teens as they were trying to leave.
The prosecution attorney found inconsistencies with Hart’s claim that the victim ran toward him, as the three teens testified this did not happened. Furthermore, he argued Hart would not have had time to fire the gun, as by his own testimony, it took him about 2-and-a-half seconds to cock and fire the weapon.
Hart’s sentencing is scheduled for December 15. He could face up to 20 years in prison.