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Jury clears man on assault charge after 3-day trial

A Cowan man on trial for shooting his friend at fairly close range in the stomach with a shotgun was found not guilty of first-degree assault.

After deliberating for nearly three hours on March 3, a Letcher County jury found Gary Wayne Boggs Jr., 25, of 2165 Bo Fork, not guilty.

“I’m glad that Gar y was found not guilty,” said Public Defender Richard Counts. “I believe the jury made the right decision.”

Boggs testified during the three-day trial that he shot 22-year-old Dustin Helton in self-defense on July 1, 2009 because he believed his life was in danger.

“The way the new jury instructions read under the Castle Doctrine, it is going to be hard to convince someone it is not self-defense,” said Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks. “If you feel you have been threatened, you are allowed to use deadly force. There are a lot of unanswered questions under the Castle Doctrine until they get all the kinks sorted out.”

Boggs testified on March 2 that he was walking by Helton’s father Drew Helton’s house located at 538 Log House Branch while carrying a shotgun when Dustin Helton, who was armed with a pocketknife, ran from his father’s porch to where Boggs was walking on the road.

“He said, ‘You either get or I’ll gut you,’” said Boggs. “I said ‘Buddy, I don’t want any problems.’”

Dustin Helton testified that he walked from the porch to the road to nicely ask Boggs if he would not carry a gun while walking past his house because his younger brothers play outside.

Dustin Helton, who said he was not armed with a pocketknife at the time of the shooting, testified that when he threw his hands up in the air, he was in the process of turning around to step back when he was shot in the left side of his abdomen.

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