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Jury deliberates in Brighton murder trial of Max Wyant

Posted at: 12/06/2012 1:42 PM
Updated at: 12/06/2012 10:54 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

By early afternoon, the jury in the Max Wyant murder case started deliberating. The jurors listened and watched passionate closing arguments from the lawyers.

Wyant is accused of shooting and killing his former roommate, C.J. Schoen, last February. The prosecution says Wyant shot Schoen in the back with a shotgun as Schoen was leaving the home located near Ellison Park. Earlier this week a young woman who hung out at the home occasionally testified that a week before the shooting, Schoen's name came up and at the mention Wyant went "into a rage, flailing his arms." Sandy Smith recalled what Wyant said testifying, "if he ever stepped on this property again he (meaning Wyant) would kill him."

The defense is self defense. Defense attorney James Nobles says Schoen was "hopped up on bath salts" when he came over to the house. Nobles also read text messages from Schoen's phone which he said shows that Schoen was suicidal. The texts read: "what's the point in being alive?" and "I just need a tall bridge. Any ideas?"

Here's a breakdown of what both attorneys told the jury in their closing arguments.

Nobles for the defense

"What a mess. This case is a mess."

"(The prosecution) have to prove that Max Wyant was not justified in preventing a burglary from his home."

"(The prosecution's case is a) smoke and mirrors show. No one told you who was there, what happened and who did it. They certainly didn't tell you about what was in Max's mind."

The shooting happened in a tight hallway. Wyant was in the kitchen and Schoen was near the front door

"That's where you see self defense. In close quarters. Three feet. That's where things happen fast. This is where self defense happens."

"(Schoen's) hopped up on bath salts. That can make you aggressive."

"He has a score to settle in his mind. He went to that house looking for a fight. He was looking to kill himself."

"Max was cooperating. Does he run and hide? No. He stays there. He was 100% cooperative with every officer."

The first round fired was what's commonly called a non-lethal round. Nobles held it up to show the jury. It's a pink colored "kushball"

"If you intend to kill someone you do not shoot them with this."

Harrigan for the People

"As CJ was on the phone with 911, the defendant murdered him right in the back."

Evidence shows 911 wasn't called from the home until nine minutes after the shooting. The prosecution says Wyant and two others were trying to think of a plan of what to say to 911 and the police.

The prosecution has to prove the killing was intentional. Harrigan recalled the testimony of Sandy Smith where she said Wyant said he would kill Schoen if Schoen the next time he showed up at the house.
Then Harrigan picked up the shotgun and held it out to the jury.


"Right there, ladies and gentlemen. That's intent."

"(Schoen) wasn't committing a crime. He was on the phone with 911. Do you call 911 when you're going to commit a crime?"

Responding to the defense theory that self defense happens in small areas like the hallway between the house's kitchen and doorway, Harrigan said:

"What else happens in close range? An execution. That's close range."