WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) — A West Valley man charged with murder has claimed self-defense and is seeking to dismiss the case before it goes to trial.
Deon Andre Jennings, 31, is accused of stabbing and killing his uncle, Willie Houston, 59, on April 30, 2022.
According to court documents filed Wednesday, Jennings claimed that he was justified to use force to defend himself against a “violent assault” by Houston, who had previously threatened him, hit him in the head, and tackled him.
Houston was reportedly high on methamphetamine and cocaine when the incident happened and had prior violent convictions.
“While [Jennings] did not knowingly use deadly force, such force would have been justified,” the court documents claim.
West Valley City police responded to a stabbing homicide near 4178 S 4080 W on April 30, 2022. Upon arrival, officers found Houston unconscious with stab wounds in a neighbor’s apartment unit. He was transported to a local hospital and later pronounced dead.
The affidavit states that Houston said his nephew, Jennings, stabbed him. Police put out a press release on May 2, 2022, saying they were searching for Jennings as a person of interest in a stabbing homicide. Jennings was taken into custody a day later.
Jennings reportedly said he was having a normal day with Houston when his uncle received a phone call that angered him. Jennings made a comment to Houston after the phone call, and the uncle told him to leave.
The two allegedly got into an argument about who should leave. Then, Jennings started to pack up his belongings to leave because he felt dizzy and thought he might have been hit over the head, the probable cause document says.
At this point, he claimed he saw Houston running out of the front door, so he grabbed a weapon and locked the door. Then, Houston allegedly pushed the door open and tackled Jennings. A struggle reportedly ensued.
The affidavit points out that Jennings tried to push Houston away with his left hand and struck him in the back with his right hand. Police say Jennings could not recall what weapon he had picked up.
Houston got up and ran out of the front door. Police believe he had entered the neighbor’s apartment to ask them to call 911.
Meanwhile, Jennings allegedly locked the front door, dropped the weapon and ran out through the back door.
When police asked him why he did not call 911 or try to help Houston, he reportedly responded that he did not care and that it had not crossed his mind to call, according to the affidavit.
Jennings pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in September 2022.
An evidentiary hearing has been scheduled for May 4, 2023.
Read the document containing the motion for pretrial justification hearing and motion to dismiss below: