Attorneys drop Stand Your Ground defense

NORMAN — A woman who admitted killing her ex-lover and high school classmate is asking a judge to dismiss the murder charge against her because she feared for her life.

Stacy Ann Zimmerman, 49, of Norman, claims she was afraid Terry Roach would kill her when he came to her home June 23, 2018.

A police investigation revealed Zimmerman fired her .22-caliber rifle 10 times at Roach, including several rounds that were discharged as Roach backed away from the front porch and onto the yard.

Zimmerman's defense attorneys are requesting Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman dismiss the murder charge based on the Stand Your Ground legal claim. Oklahoma law allows a person who is attacked to meet force with force, including deadly force, if they believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to themselves or to another person.

Oklahoma law also does not require a person to retreat from a deadly situation and gives them the right to stand their ground.

Balkman presided Monday over the first day of the Stand Your Ground hearing, which continues Friday at 8:30 a.m.

Witness Denise Jackson, a longtime friend of Zimmerman's, testified the relationship between the defendant and Roach was "ridiculous" because of the many changes that included love and hate. Prosecutors claimed during the hearing that Zimmerman and Roach were involved in a sexual relationship that began after the defendant helped the victim who was homeless and without money.

Jackson, Zimmerman and Roach were high school classmates at Lexington High School about 30 years ago. During her testimony, Jackson said Zimmerman showed her threatening texts Roach sent.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree murder. In this case, jurors would have the option of finding the defendant guilty of either charge. No trial date has been set.

Jackson and several other witnesses told the judge Monday that Zimmerman relayed to them she was afraid for her life. Zimmerman told her friends and former high school classmates that she had been harassed and stalked by Roach after telling him to leave her house at 628 N. University Blvd. She reportedly began helping him in late May 2018 by allowing him to stay at her house and washing his clothes.

Defense attorneys portrayed the relationship as short-term while prosecutors argued Zimmerman and Roach were living together, having sex and texting each other on a frequent basis, including the day of the killing.

Norman attorney Richard Smalley testified Zimmerman contacted him about filing a victim's protective order for her days before the fatal shooting.

"She said she had concerns about her safety," he told the judge.

Smalley said Zimmerman told him she was afraid to leave her house because of Roach's alleged harassment.

Another witness, Linda Wilkerson, testified she went to school with Roach and Zimmerman and described Roach as a "very scary, angry young man." Wilkerson, who owns a Norman towing company, said one of her drivers towed Roach's vehicle away from Zimmerman's home a few days before the killing. Wilkerson testified she talked to Zimmerman and thought she was scared of Roach.

"She said, 'He was going to fricking kill me,'" Wilkerson told the judge.

During cross-examination by prosecutors, Wilkerson was asked if she'd be surprised that Zimmerman had been arrested on a domestic violence complaint or that she'd used methamphetamine.

Witness Tonya Adams, another longtime friend of Zimmerman's, told the judge the defendant was "terrified" of Roach because he held her hostage in her home for three weeks and later stalked her. Adams testified she received a 911 Facebook message from Zimmerman, prompting her to make a return call on June 21, 2018, two days before Roach was shot to death.

However, a probable cause affidavit prepared by Norman police on June 25, 2018, tells a different story.

Detectives obtained video surveillance from a neighbor that showed the shooting. At least 10 gunshots were heard on the video and most were fired while Roach was laying on his back in the front yard, the affidavit states.

Zimmerman told police at the time she received an email from Roach stating he would be dropping something at her front porch. The defendant told police she grabbed a black rifle and went to the dining room and stood by the table waiting for him. Her cell phone was on the table next to her, but she did not call 911, the affidavit shows.

Police learned Zimmerman opened the front door and fired one shot, and then fired another round once Roach took a step inside the house, according to the affidavit. Roach began backing away, out of the house, onto the front porch and into the yard. According to police, Zimmerman acknowledged she walked toward Roach and continued to fire the .22-caliber rifle until it was empty of bullets.

All shell casings were found outside the house, Norman police wrote in the affidavit. Police found no weapon around Roach during the investigation.

Tim Farley366-3539tfarley@normantranscript.com

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