After a Harrisburg man shot and killed his girlfriend’s husband outside a bar last June, a Dauphin County jury found him not guilty of murder on Wednesday.
Theodore Meriweather was free for the first time in nine months, since the June 22, 2013 shooting, and at home with family, his defense attorney said.
The victim, John Lumpkins, was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
“The verdict, the judgment, was done by man, it was done by flesh,” says his niece, Katina Norman. “There’s still another verdict that is to be done.”
Lumpkins and Meriweather had fought before that night, and Lumpkins had previously shown a knife. Meriweather told the jury that Lumpkins was threatening to kill him outside the bar, and it was too dark to see if he had a weapon.
Lumpkins’ wife went to get into Meriweather’s car, and Lumpkins tried to stop her.
“Mr. Lumpkins followed his estranged wife to the passenger side of my client’s vehicle and attempted to forcefully remove her from the vehicle,” says Roy Galloway, Meriweather’s attorney. “At which time my client stated ‘back off.'”
But Lumpkins didn’t stop, and Meriweather shot him in the chest, killing him. Meriweather then called 911 and cooperated with police.
Galloway says it is a “textbook” case of self-defense. He says it applies under Pennsylvania’s “stand your ground” law, which says a person can use deadly force to defend themselves or someone else, in their home – or their car.
The jury acquitted Meriweather after about an hour of deliberation.
“He has sympathy for the Lumpkins family and he didn’t want this to end the way that it did,” says Galloway.
Lumpkins’ family says they are moving forward but his loss has left a hole in their family.
“When I went to go view his body, I could’ve just fainted, because it’s just the reality of everything just hit, it all could’ve been prevented,” says Norman, who called Lumpkins, ‘Uncle Dad.’ “We can be angry, we can be mad, we can hate but it’s not going to bring him back.”