MANCHESTER — The man accused of murder outside Club ManchVegas in early March may claim self-defense when the case goes to trial, according to recent filings in his court case.
Justin Moura faces a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Tanya Hall, a passenger in a Jeep Wrangler leaving the club’s parking lot.
In a two-page filing in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Moura’s lawyer said a “fight or flight” reaction kicked in after the Wrangler struck Moura in the back last March.
He went flying 4 or 5 feet, and had a snowbank not stopped the vehicle, Moura believed he would have been paralyzed, wrote his lawyer, public defender Stephen Rosecan. The gun fired accidentally, the lawyer wrote.
The SUV was driven by Jeremy Winslow, who has said that several members of the Bro club confronted him inside the bar and then in the parking lot.
“This pleading serves as notice that the defense may argue that Mr. Moura was justified, under the law of self-defense, in taking out a weapon, running toward the Jeep with a weapon, and/or displaying a weapon,” the notice reads.
An Iraq war veteran, Moura has been jailed since turning himself over to police days after the March 2 shooting death of Hall.
The Union Leader was unable to reach Winslow on Wednesday. But his lawyer dismissed the idea of self-defense.
“Not commenting on this case, but in my everyday life experience, I have never felt the need to defend myself by chasing a moving car and firing a loaded pistol,” said Nashua lawyer Mark Osborne.
He expects that Winslow will probably be called to testify. In June, Winslow pleaded guilty to driving after suspension and spent another couple of months in jail on top of the 96 days he was jailed awaiting for his case to be resolved.
The prosecutor in the case, Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley, said the case appears to be on track, with jury selection slated for March.
Meanwhile, the case docket shows that 23 filings have been made under seal, which restricts public access to the filings.
Court rules governing criminal cases call for most court files to be open and available for public inspection. However, rules allow for exceptions that include juvenile delinquency records, mental health records, grand jury proceedings and material that would harm one’s privacy or right to a fair trial.
In the self-defense notice, Rosecan wrote that a friend had to pull Moura out from under the Jeep once it struck Moura. Moura told police he took out his weapon and chased after the vehicle, Rosecan wrote.
Moura told police the Wrangler swerved toward him and and his gun went off.
“He referred to the discharge of the weapon as an accident,” Rosecan wrote.