Judge to consider “stand your ground” in 2014 Tiger Lodge shooting

(May 2016)

OPELIKA, Ala.- After more than four hours of testimony, Judge Christopher Hughes says he will consider that testimony, evidence and the defense’s argument that Markale Hart shot Jakell Mitchell out of self-defense at the Tiger Lodge apartments in December 2014.

Tuesday was an immunity hearing for Hart to declare him immune from the charges.

Various witnesses took the stand to testify about their knowledge from that night. Some witnesses said that Hart fired the first shot, while other witnesses said that Mitchell fired the first shot. The lead investigator of the case, William Holt of the Auburn Police Division told the court that Mitchell fired 11 shots and that Hart fired 10 shots. At the time, Mitchell had a BAC of .097. The weapon used by Mitchell was recovered at the scene, but Hart’s was never recovered. Hart says the weapon was given to him by a friend of his shortly before the incident took place, because the friend said that some people were arguing and had guns. He suggested that Hart protect himself.

Markale Hart on the stand Tuesday
Markale Hart on the stand Tuesday


Mitchell’s girlfriend at the time, Ayanna Hugely told the court that Hart fired the first shots and that she never saw Mitchell draw a weapon.

Testimony pointed to the origin of the incident being from an altercation between Mitchell and Hart’s cousin, Tyrone Rowe over posts on social media.

During the hearing, Hart took to the stand and talked about the night. Hart told the court that he did not know Mitchell. He went to the apartments that night for a party with a couple of others. He says there were a couple of girls arguing inside, so they went outside. While outside, Hart says he talked with his cousin. He couldn’t find Rowe. Hart says he walked back upstairs to get him and he saw Rowe and Mitchell arguing outside the apartment. He tried to get Rowe downstairs, which he eventually did. He saw Mitchell come down the stairs of the complex with a gun in his right hand.

He says Mitchell pointed it at Rowe’s chest and Hart told him not to do it, and then he says Mitchell started to fire. Hart says he ducked and then started firing. Hart says the gun was given to him by a friend prior to the incident for protection. The state says having the gun violated Hart’s then probation. Hart began to run away and he stopped shooting when he saw Mitchell hit the ground. He says he was scared for his life when he saw the gun.

He told the court, he says if Mitchell did not point the gun at him, he would not have shot. He added that he had no other choice than to shoot. Hart added that he is very sorry Mitchell died, and he had no intentions of killing anyone that night.

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