Suspect in Fresno hit-run claims self-defense
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the family of Shawn Shulte, 20, try to come to terms with what happened Saturday night, the case against his accused killer continued Wednesday inside a Fresno County courtroom.
That's where Austin Jantz, 18, appeared before a judge for the first time since the deadly accident. Jantz was arrested Saturday more than 2 miles away from the scene, after Fresno Police first got a call of a disturbance at an East Central Fresno home -- then another call - seven minutes later - of a hit and run accident at the same location.
Shawn's stepsister, Jamie Flynn said, "We're here for Shawn, we're going to do whatever it takes and we just ask for everyone to keep praying and just hope everything goes well."
While friends say Shulte was hit by Jantz speeding truck while leaving a party, Jantz attorney, James Wasson says his client was trying to drive-away drunk - out of fear for his own safety.
"It appears to me, my client was ganged up on by a great number of people and that he was fleeing the scene," said Wasson. "They were trying to harm him and unfortunately somebody jumped in front of his vehicle. What's he going to do when you have 25 people trying to pile on you and certainly once the accident happened, you think he's going to stop?"
Jantz faces 5 charges, including felony DUI, hit and run and gross vehicular manslaughter. While he sits in jail waiting to be arraigned - his attorney plans to investigate the matter further.
Wasson said, "Under the law, there is something called the defense of necessity, meaning you can drive drunk if there's a greater harm threatening you - such as a mob beating you up, and of course my client was struck several times by these people."
Shulte's friends and family disagree with that claim. They say they want justice for Shawn -- and they're hoping to get it at the next court appearance scheduled for next week.
fresno, crimetracker, dui, fresno county, fresno east central, local, linda mumma
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