A then-68-year-old Howard County man was found not guilty of manslaughter in his son’s shooting death in 2019, successfully arguing that he’d acted in self-defense.
A county jury found Stephen Dwight Tucker not guilty of manslaughter and a weapons charge last week in relation to the shooting death of his 38-year-old son, Stephen Michael Tucker in October 2019.
Police said the elder Tucker shot his son following a domestic dispute in Marriottsville, and he was eventually indicted by a grand jury on charges of manslaughter and using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
According to Tucker’s defense attorney, Andrew Jezic, the younger Tucker had previously threatened to kill himself and his wife earlier that day and was threatening a friend over the phone on his father’s front porch before the fatal encounter. Police had said previously that the fatal dispute occurred after the son had injured another unnamed family member at a different residence.
Jezic said his father heard the threats and, not knowing his son was on the phone, retreated to the bedroom and hid a loaded handgun underneath the covers of his bed. The attorney added that the father tried to avoid provoking his son by hiding the gun and that he’d previously fought with his adult son before, being hospitalized with minor injuries.
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The son then went inside the house and in the bedroom approached his father, who Jezic said initially pointed the handgun at his son to try to prevent another attack.
The attorney said the son ignored the handgun and lunged at his father, who fatally shot the 38-year-old in response, Jezic said. He added that the son continued to assault his father even after he was shot.
“It was a completely justified shooting,” Jezic said.
Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson defended proceeding with the case, writing in a statement that Tucker had been indicted by a grand jury and “it is our job to prosecute.”
“This was an incredibly difficult case that presented many challenges,” Gibson said. “In the end, we respect the jury’s verdict.”
Jezic said the evidence clearly pointed to the father acting in self-defense and noted the son’s criminal record, which includes several convictions on drug and assault charges.
“[The] son had five convictions for assault on his record and [he] just had a lifelong issue struggling with drug addiction and alcohol addiction,” Jezic said.