Wilde Lake shooting

At the scene of the 2008 shooting near the Wilde Lake Village Center, Howard County Police investigators examine evidence. (File photo/2008 / April 9, 2008)

A Columbia man sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting another Columbia man four years ago will be retried early next year after Maryland's highest appellate court ruled the jury instruction in his trial was insufficient.

Antajuan Lawntee Wilson, 23, of Columbia, was convicted of first-degree murder for the April 9, 2008 shooting death of Bryan Antoine Adams Jr. outside of the Wilde Lake Village Center after the two got into an argument.

A pre-trial motions hearing for Wilson's new trial was held inside Howard County Circuit Court last week.

A Maryland Court of Appeals decision, handed down in December of 2011, declared that the jury in Wilson's original trial was not properly instructed.

According to the ruling, the jury was not instructed to consider that Wilson, who claimed it was a "kill-or-be-killed" situation, could have been acting in what is called an "imperfect self-defense."

Imperfect self-defense states that a person is eligible to receive reduced sentence if he feels his life is being threatened, even if the perceived threat is deemed to be unreasonable.

Despite the fact that Wilson's claim was "overwhelmed by evidence to the contrary," the court ruled that his assertion alone was sufficient enough to warrant the instruction.

During the 2008 trial, Wilson's attorney argued that the murder occurred in the heat of the moment and was not premeditated.

Wilson testified he had been at the gas station in the village center trying to buy cigarettes the morning of the incident, when Adams and two friends arrived at the station.

Adams friends testified that Adams and Wilson got into an argument, after which Wilson left, returned with a gun, and shot Adams.

Wilson said the gun, which was never recovered, belonged to Adams, and he wrestled it away from him and shot him in self-defense.

The prosecution said Adams was shot four times, twice after hitting the ground.

Wilson, who remains in prison, is scheduled to be retried on Jan. 7, 2013.