The man who was charged with fatally shooting former Auburn H-Back Jakell Mitchell went to the stand for the first time since Mitchell’s death in December 2014.
Markale Deandre Hart, the man charged with Mitchell’s fatal shooting, said he was merely acting in self-defense during his hearing on Tuesday.
“I ain’t have no other choice; that’s the only choice I had,” Hart said during his testimony, via AL.com’s Tom Green.
The hearing — which has no timeline for a decision — will determine whether the charges against Hart can be dismissed under Alabama’s Stand Your Ground law. The law, enacted in 2006, justifies the use of force and removes the duty to retreat when another person is about to use unlawful, deadly force.
Hart, according to the report, pleaded not guilty last November to Mitchell’s murder.
Hart and seven other witnesses testified over the course of five hours Tuesday, offering varying accounts of Mitchell’s death. Six of the witnesses were brought on by Hart’s defense to prove he acted in self-defense when shooting Mitchell.
Hart claimed he arrived at a party at the Auburn apartment complex where the shooting occurred with his cousin, Tyrone Rowe, before losing him inside the apartment. He eventually found Rowe in an argument with Mitchell outside the unit.
After trying to get Rowe downstairs, a friend of Hart’s, known as “Big D,” handed him a .40-caliber pistol and said someone was going to try and kill them, Green reported. Hart claims he took the gun without asking questions and proceeded to Rowe’s car, but when he looked back he saw Mitchell “swiftly” advancing toward them with a gun in his hand.
He said Mitchell pointed the gun at Rowe’s chest and head from a short distance away, per Green. Hart said he told Mitchell not to shoot, at which point Mitchell opened fire at Hart, who retreated and returned fire, striking him five times.
Even on the ground, Hart said, he and Mitchell exchanged fire.
Hart also expressed remorse at the whole situation.
“I’m very sorry that he lost his life,” Hart said. “I ain’t never wanted to kill nobody. I ain’t go there planning to kill nobody.”