Roland Weddell has won a final chance to convince the Nevada Supreme Court to block felony assault charges against him.
The high court reinstated the charges last July, saying the Carson City contractor went beyond the law when he tried to use deadly force while making a citizen's arrest of James Bustamonte in October 1997.
Justices Deborah Agosti and Miriam Shearing said Nevada lawmakers repealed the old common law "fleeing felon rule" in 1993, clearly indicating they didn't support the use of deadly force by private persons. They said deadly force should be limited to police officers.
But the decision wasn't unanimous.
Justice Bob Rose agreed the 1993 Legislature intended to limit a private person to no more force than necessary and reasonable in making an arrest. But he supported Weddell's argument that this is "a new rule based on our interpretation of what the Legislature intended, not what the statutes expressly stated."
Weddell said the Supreme Court in its July opinion regarding his case created a new legal rule making what he did a crime.
Weddell disagrees with the rule but argues in his petition for rehearing that, in any case, it can't be used to prosecute him retroactively for something he did more than four years before. He said it is not only unfair but not permitted by the U.S. Constitution.
Rose said the rule probably cannot be applied to Weddell's case.
The argument won Weddell a chance to convince a majority of the full seven-member court he should not have to face charges in the case.
The high court gave Carson District Attorney Noel Waters 20 days to respond to Weddell's arguments.
Weddell said the incident started when Bustamonte and another person tried to run down one of his employees with a truck. Unsatisfied with how Carson City sheriff's deputies handled the incident, Weddell tracked down Bustamonte and attempted to arrest him. When Bustamonte fled, Weddell shot at him several times but missed.
If Weddell loses, he will face prosecution. If he is convicted he could serve up to four years in prison over the shooting incident.