SOUTH FORSYTH — Some two years after an early morning shooting at a Forsyth County RV park left one man hospitalized and his next-door neighbor in jail, a judge ruled that the suspect acted in self-defense.
Earlier this month, Chief Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley found that James Adams Dunleavy, 28, was defending himself when he shot fellow Twin Lakes RV park resident Aubrey Zander, 30.
According the ruling, the court found that Dunleavy “was reasonably justified in standing his ground and shooting Zander as a matter of self-defense.” He had previously been charged with aggravated assault.
The shooting occurred about 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 13, 2013. Zander had reportedly returned home to park on Shore Drive, sat in his vehicle and “continued to play loud music and began to rev his engine loudly.”
The music woke Dunleavy, who used a handgun to tap on Zander’s window and get his attention.
According to court documents, “Zander, who was under the influence of alcohol, rapidly and excitedly exited the vehicle and began to remove his own shirt from his upper body. [He] simultaneously began to approach the defendant, in a rushing manner, as the defendant began to slowly back away from Zander's vehicle.”
Zander reportedly told Dunleavy to call 911 and that he would regret pulling out the gun. A scuffle ensued on the ground and then Dunleavy got up and attempted to back away as Zander came at him.
“[I]t was at this point that the defendant fired his handgun at Zander in two rapid bursts,” according to the documents. “The first shot struck Zander in Zander's upper body (shoulder area). The force of the initial impact caused Zander's body to violently spin resulting in the second shot striking Zander in his lower back.”
Prosecutors contended Dunleavy had been the aggressor, since he drew the gun. Zander was hospitalized after the incident.
According to the judge’s ruling, “The defendant's choice to brandish a weapon at the outset of this encounter was improper, enflamed Zander, and might possibly have constituted simple assault against Zander.
“However, the defendant exercised continued restraint when he retreated on not one but two occasions and communicated a desire to disengage from the escalating and combative situation.”