Wife accused of killing husband; lawyers claim self-defense

Casey Dark ( Coconino County Sheriff's Office )

A woman accused of fatally shooting her husband was released from jail ahead of trial after her lawyers claimed self-defense, a judge ruled.

Casey Dark was charged with second-degree murder in the death of her 45-year-old husband Joshua Dark stemming from a domestic violence incident in December at their home in Cosnino, east of Flagstaff, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

Prosecutors argued Casey Dark escalated a fight between herself and her husband when she brought a gun. But her lawyers have said her husband had a history of violence so she believed she needed to respond with deadly physical force.

Under the law, the common standard for the use of self-defense is changed in domestic violence cases from the belief of deadly physical force in the mind of a reasonable person, to the belief of deadly physical force in the mind of a reasonable person who has been a victim of those past acts of domestic violence.

Coconino County Superior Court Judge Ted Reed decided to release Dark under the condition she appear at all court hearings. Dark could be tried and found guilty if she does not appear.

A trial date is currently scheduled for February 2021.

Reed also ordered her to stay sober, prohibited visits with her husband's family and required weekly visits with pretrial services.

“We think it was the right decision,” Staci Foulks, one of Dark's two attorneys, told the Arizona Daily Sun. “Casey was a victim of domestic violence. She acted in self-defense.”

Prosecutor Ammon Barker indicated the state had made an offer to lower the charges down to manslaughter in the case. Dark and her lawyers, Foulks and Kara Sagi, denied the offer.

“I believe the defense is not willing to accept an offer in this case that would require prison,” Barker said. “The state is certainly willing to do a settlement conference or engage in negotiations if the defense wanted to, but it sounds like we’re just headed for trial.”