Alturas man’s self-defense claim holds up

Alturas, Calif. – Modoc County prosecutors have dismissed murder charges against an Alturas man.

Christopher Brown was arrested in May of this year for stabbing and killing James Houseman.

Witnesses say the incident happened when brown and houseman were arguing over a charcoal barbecue.

Modoc County District Attorney Jordan Funk said he felt he could not disprove Brown’s claims of self-defense.

A.G. Funk’s office released the following statement:

“From the beginning of this case we knew that Mr. Brown had a strong self-defense claim.  In California, when a person raises the claim of ‘self-defense’ it is the prosecution’s burden to disprove that claim ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. If the prosecution cannot do so, if they cannot meet their burden to disprove the self-defense claim of the accused, then the killing is justified and not a crime.  As we delved deeper into the evidence, it became apparent to us that we could not disprove Mr. Brown’s self-defense case.  He was being badly beaten in a fist fight. He had been subdued, was on his back being pummeled and was nearing unconsciousness when he saw Mr. Houseman pull a knife from Houseman’s belt sheath.  Houseman was armed with numerous knives and  habitually carries knives.  Brown, fearing for his life, took the knife away from Houseman and in virtually the same motion stabbed Houseman in the side with Houseman’s own knife.  We cannot disprove Brown’s claim that Houseman pulled a knife on Brown and in that circumstance, Brown clearly has a right to use deadly force to defend himself.  Mr. Houseman had a large amount of methamphetamine in his system.  Mr. Brown had also used methamphetamine and was under the influence of alcohol.  I think the moral of the story is don’t do drugs, don’t drink to excess and don’t hang around with people who do either.”

Skip to content