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Bill would reimburse defendants who shoot under self-defense

February 22, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A panel of lawmakers introduced legislation that would strengthen Idaho’s “stand your ground” law by requiring counties to reimburse anyone charged in a slaying if a judge or jury concludes they acted in self-defense.

Sen. Christy Zito, a Republican from Hammett, said the proposal is needed to protect people like Kyle Rittenhouse, who used an assault-style rifle to shoot three people during a street protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020. Rittenhouse killed Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, but he said he acted in self-defense. A jury last year acquitted him of multiple charges including homicide.

“The way our political world is looking more and more every day, we need to make sure that our citizens are protected beyond any shadow of a doubt so if they do indeed take human life, they’re protected from that,” Zito said told the House State Affairs Committee.

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Zito, who is sponsoring the proposal along with Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from White Bird, said the bill includes “immunity and reimbursement for justifiable homicide.”

The immunity and reimbursement wouldn’t apply if the person knew or reasonably should have known that the person they are using force against is a police officer, Zito said.

If enacted, the legislation would require the county or prosecuting state agency where the person was charged with a crime to reimburse the defendant for “all reasonable costs” if they are found not guilty by reason of self defense. Reasonable costs would include lost wages, the costs of any lost business opportunities and legal costs including bail, expert witness fees, attorney’s bills and other expenses.

The bill also includes a “safety net” to protect defendants if they are sued by victim in a self-defense case, she said.

The proposal was introduced on a unanimous vote.