An Athens judge dismissed murder charges against a transgender woman who fatally shot another transgender woman, ruling that the shooting was self defense.
Police called the shooter “the victim of a feud between transgender groups,” reported the Athens Banner-Herald.
Jalen Breon Brown (photo, left), 22, was charged with malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm for the June 2017 shooting death of Ava Le’Ray Barrin (photo, right), 17.
Brown filed a motion in March 2018 claiming she shot Barrin in self-defense. Judge Eric Norris granted the motion and dismissed the indictment based on testimony during a hearing in May.
Court documents give a detailed account of what transpired between the women in the months leading up to, and on the day of, the shooting.
About six months before the incident, Brown posted a video on Facebook that mentioned Barrin, including comments that were “very upsetting” to her according to Judge Eric Norris.
On the morning of the shooting, Barrin and three friends showed up at Riverview Apartments on College Avenue where Brown was visiting a friend. Barrin challenged Brown to a fight.
Barrin and her friends surrounded Brown’s car and wouldn’t leave, so Brown borrowed a friend’s gun and went onto the balcony.
Here’s what happened next, according to the Banner-Herald, which misgendered and dead-named the involved parties.
One of (Barrin's) companions yelled, “We aren’t afraid of that gun … come down and fight,” Norris wrote in his order. Brown told the group of males that he was not going to fight and that they needed to leave.
As they continued to taunt Brown, he fired a warning shot in the air, noted the order.
“Not deterred, the four men remained next to (Brown’s) car and continued shouting fighting words while (Barrin) attempted to open (the) car door,” the judge wrote in his order.
Brown reportedly told the group several more times that she did not want to fight. She then walked down the stairs with the gun in one hand pointed downward.
As Brown descended the stairway, (Barrin) was climbing the stairs and the two met about three steps from the ground. “At this point (Barrin) grabbed (Brown),” the judge stated in his order,
“They struggled together as (Barrin) placed (Brown) in a headlock and attempted to take the gun,” Norris noted.
When they lost balance and fell to the ground, Brown fired the gun, Norris wrote.
In his ruling, Norris noted Brown’s multiple attempts to de-escalate the situation.
“This fact alone creates even more apprehension of receiving great bodily harm because it is reasonable to believe that if a person is not scared off by a gun, then he could be armed,” Norris wrote, according to the Banner-Herald.
“Finally, and most importantly, Jernigan tried to grab the gun out of (Brown’s) hand. Anyone in (Brown’s) position would have reasonably believed that his own great bodily harm was imminent,” Norris added.