Prosecutor’s Office: Deadly stabbing may have been an act of self-defense

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(Photo supplied/ABC 57)

The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit’s investigation shows that the person who stabbed Ray Adkins on Iowa Street on Wednesday, Dec. 19, may have acted in self-defense. Witnesses say a resident and her boyfriend told police that Adkins had arrived and was banging on windows and the door, demanding to be let inside. He was told to leave, but Adkins allegedly hit the boyfriend, leading to a fight. The boyfriend, believing to be in fear for his life, pulled a knife and stabbed Adkins.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office released the following statement about the stabbing investigation:

St. Joseph County – The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit (CMHU) has conducted a preliminary investigation into the December 19, 2018, stabbing death of Ray Adkins in the 900 block of Iowa Street, Mishawaka. Preliminary investigation does not disprove the involved parties’ statement that Ray Adkins was stabbed in self-defense as he attempted to forcibly enter the residence.

On December 19, 2018 at approximately 11:33 p.m., the Mishawaka Police Department (MPD) received a report of an unwanted person that had sustained stab wounds. This occurred at a residence in the 900 block of Iowa St.  Officers were dispatched to the area and located one male adult, Ray Adkins, 46, behind 913 Iowa St., suffering from apparent stab wounds.  Mr. Adkins was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased.  

Per protocol, the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit (CMHU) was activated to handle the investigation. 

Several witnesses were interviewed at the County Metro Homicide Unit, including all the parties involved.

The resident advised officers that she and Mr. Adkins had a previous relationship which had ended.  She further stated that she had advised Mr. Adkins that he was no longer welcome at the home on Iowa Street.  

Per the resident and her boyfriend, Mr. Adkins arrived at the address on Iowa Street on the night of December 19th and allegedly kept banging on the windows and door demanding to be let in to the residence. He was asked to leave. When he still refused to leave, the boyfriend opened the door to try and reason with Mr. Adkins. Per the parties involved, Mr. Adkins began to strike the boyfriend and a scuffle ensued. The boyfriend pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed Mr. Adkins allegedly believing to be in fear for his life.

The preliminary investigation of physical evidence and witness statements did not disprove the resident and the boyfriend’s version of events. 

CMHU at this time is still reviewing some digital evidence.

After an autopsy conducted on December 21, 2018, a forensic pathologist determined Ray Adkins’ cause of death to be sharp force injuries (stab wounds) and the manner of his death to be a homicide. Homicide is defined as “death at the hands of another;” however, it does not determine whether that homicide was justified. 

Though CMHU continues to investigate this matter, preliminary analysis does not disprove the claim of self-defense. 

I.C. 35-41-3-2(c) specifically states “A person is justified in using reasonable force against any other person to protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person: (1) is justified in using deadly force; and (2) does not have a duty to retreat; if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.” Indiana law further delineates that an individual is “(1) justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against any other person; and (2) does not have a duty to retreat; if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s dwelling” (I.C. 35-41-3-2(d)). The State must disprove this self-defense and defense of others, beyond a reasonable doubt.

After CMHU completes its investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office will make a determination of appropriate next steps based upon the law and the facts, specifically whether the State can disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  

At this time, therefore, no arrests have been made nor formal criminal charges filed. Since the other party has not been arrested or charged with a crime, that party’s identity is not being released by our office at this time.

We will provide the Prosecutor’s Office’s final determination at the conclusion of the CMHU investigation.

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