Defendant William J. Kemp testified Monday that he shot and killed Thomas A. Schmitt after being assaulted and hearing the word "gun," although he doesn't remember the alleged assault and admitted to never having seen a gun.
"I think he's stuck with an unreasonable self-defense. He got hit once in the living room and heard the word 'gun' and used deadly force," District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt said.
Linhardt argued before Judge Marc F. Lovecchio that Kemp "misapprehends or exaggerates perceived threats," citing a Dec. 24, 2009, incident in Wegmans when Kemp pulled a knife out after someone bumped into his shopping cart. Lovecchio ruled that the Commonwealth cannot present that fact to the jury, calling the information "prejudicial."
Kemp's testimony contradicted that of many witnesses, including neighbor Brenda Dunkleberger, who said no one was chasing Kemp as his walked to his vehicle.
"It sounds like we have a growing list of mistaken or lying witnesses," Linhardt told Kemp.
"If I wanted to lie to you sir, I'd lie to you about remembering that night," Kemp testified.
According to reports, on the night of the shooting Kemp had a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent - twice the legal limit.
While he blamed alcohol in part for his "fuzzy memory," he dismissed the suggestion that intoxication could have impacted his threat perception.
"Why did you use your gun that night?" Assistant Public Defender Robert Cronin asked.
"I didn't have an option. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be here. Those guys would have killed me," Kemp testified.
Kemp alleges that Schmitt's friend Michael Updegraff assaulted him inside the house at 1017 Franklin St. but was hazy on details.
"I don't recall (Updegraff) being physical at that point," Kemp testified.
He also alleges that the door was shut behind him, leaving him with no way to escape.
"That's when I spun around and saw the little guy," Kemp said.
Linhardt asked how Kemp could be so threatened by Schmitt, considering he was 5 feet 6 inches tall and only weighed 129 pounds.
"His eyes, they were just scary as hell ... I felt like a trap had been sprung," Kemp said.
Kemp then was escorted onto the porch but said he had "no idea how I got there."
Dunkleberger testified that Kemp had safely arrived at his vehicle when he began firing up the driveway. Kemp claims Schmitt was "bum-rushing" him.
"Who has a greater incentive for selective memory? You on trial for murder, or Mrs. Dunkleberger from across the street?" Linhardt asked.
"I'd say I probably do," Kemp conceded.
Kemp testified he didn't drive away when he reached his vehicle because he couldn't find his keys and because "they'd just shoot me through the window."
Kemp, who now claims he shot Schmitt out of fear for his life, didn't tell any of the responding officers that he acted in self defense, according to testimony.
Instead, one of his first statements to Agent Raymond Koontz III upon being taken into custody was, "I'm not going home tonight, am I?" according to testimony.
"Are you familiar with the term 'consciousness of guilt?' It's what people say and do when they're guilty. (Your statement to Agent Koontz is) ... Something a guilty person would say," Linhardt said.
"Guilt has nothing to do with it. If he thinks I shot somebody, he's got a mountain of paperwork to do," Kemp said.
Other indications of Kemp's consciousness of guilt include his refusal to answer the question "Did you shoot somebody?" and lack of emotional response to Schmitt's death, Linhardt argued.
"When you found out Mr. Schmitt was dead, you simply shrugged your shoulders and said, 'Oh,' " Linhardt told Kemp.
"That was the end of the worst day of my life. I'm sorry if I looked like I was a cold and callous person when the only thing I said was 'Oh,' " Kemp testified.
While Kemp alleges self defense, nobody - not even him - has given testimony that puts a gun, knife or other weapon in Schmitt's hand.
"(He's) spinning a tale from the witness stand," Linhardt said.
The defense rested its case Monday and is expected to present closing arguments today.