Stand-your-ground law has limits, Iowa Supreme Court rules

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s 2017 stand-your-ground law doesn’t apply to defendants engaged in criminal activity prior to using deadly force.

The Iowa Judicial Branch Building, which holds Iowa's Supreme Court, in Des Moines (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Ctjf83 / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Friday’s ruling reverses an Iowa Court of Appeals’ order in May issuing a new trial to Miguel Angel Lorenzo Baltazar, of Des Moines. He is serving life in prison for the July 2017 shooting death of Jeffrey Mercado. Baltazar maintains he feared Mercado had a weapon.

The Court of Appeals said Baltazar’s trial court issued faulty jury instructions that didn’t abide by Iowa’s new stand-your-ground law.

The Supreme Court noted the new law says there’s no duty to retreat when a person isn’t engaged in illegal activity, therefore implying those engaged in illegal activity must retreat.

Baltazar was illegally carrying a gun without a license.