David James Miller, 51, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after shooting another man inside his Tulsa home in 2013. Courtesy

The case against a Tulsa man accused of shooting another man was dismissed this week after a Tulsa County judge determined he was immune from prosecution under Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

David James Miller, 51, was originally charged in Tulsa County District Court with shooting with intent to kill for the 2013 shooting of Steven Michael Norris. The charges were later amended to assault with a deadly weapon.

On March 22, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed an appeal from the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office asking that the court overturn a ruling by Tulsa County District Judge James Caputo stating Miller is immune from prosecution under Oklahoma’s Stand Your Ground law.

Legal experts say a court ruling of immunity from prosecution under Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” law is fairly rare, though the Oklahoma Legislature is taking steps to expand the scope of the law to include churches.

Police said that on Dec. 13, 2013, Norris went to Miller’s house in the 6200 block of East 27th Street North after being called by a woman who was staying at Miller’s house who asked Norris to pick her up.

Norris, who had known Miller for a few months prior, knocked on the door and Miller answered, yelling and acting aggressive, prosecutors said. Norris told Miller that he was there to pick the woman up, Miller tried to slam the door but Norris “reflexively threw his hand up, hitting the door and preventing it from closing all the way,” prosecutors allege.

Norris knocked on the door again several times and Miller answered the door, this time holding a .38 caliber handgun, prosecutors said. Norris tried to deescalate the situation and told Miller that he just wanted to get the woman out of the house, to which Miller allegedly opened the door and told Norris to come inside and get the woman’s possessions, prosecutors said.

Norris took three steps inside the house and the woman slid a box containing her things over to him, according to prosecutors. When Norris bent down to pick the box up he heard a gunshot, and when he stood back up he heard more gunshots, prosecutors said.

Norris was hit by gunfire three times — once between the spine and the shoulder blade, once in the right shoulder and once in the torso. Prosecutors said Norris then tackled Miller, but then realized he had been shot and exited the house, collapsing halfway down the driveway.

Police and emergency crews were summoned and Norris survived the shooting.

Norris, who has a concealed carry license, was armed at the time, but did not pull or fire his weapon.

Assistant Tulsa County District Attorney James Pfeffer, who prosecuted the case, did not respond to phone messages from The Frontier.

However, Miller’s defense disputed several of those facts.

When Norris arrived at Miller’s residence, he was carrying a snub-nosed .38 revolver on his front hip and had been drinking “the proverbial two beers” prior to arriving, Miller’s defense attorney Brian Aspan wrote in court filings.

“My client said he didn’t invite him into the house, I don’t believe he invited him into the house,” Aspan said in an interview with The Frontier. “It didn’t make any sense. If he did invite him in, why did he (Norris) have a gun on him?”

During a hearing, Miller said he only met Norris when he knocked on his door that day, and that Norris opened the door to his residence after he had shut it, told him to leave and told him he was getting a gun.

After retrieving the gun, Miller said he again told Norris to leave and Norris responded by charging into the residence and head-butting him in the nose.

“After being struck by Mr. Norris, Mr. Miller testified that the gun went off and the next thing he knew Mr. Norris was on top of him in a recliner,” Aspan wrote in court filings. “Mr. Miller testified that at no time did he grant Steven Norris permission to enter his home.”

At the evidentiary hearing in late 2016 before Judge Caputo to determine whether Miller would be granted immunity from prosecution under the Stand Your Ground law, the state introduced testimony from the earlier preliminary hearing transcript, but no live witnesses, Aspan said.

“That probably hurt their case. A court transcript is not the best. The state probably should have thought about — the victim had a gun on him and he had other guns in the car, which hurts his credibility,” Aspan said. “They didn’t put up any witnesses, they relied the preliminary hearing transcript and it didn’t work out for them.”

Caputo later ruled that Miller’s case met the requirements for immunity under the Stand Your Ground law. The state appealed the ruling to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, saying that Caputo abused his discretion in the case by ignoring the state’s evidence.

However, last week, the appeals court ruled that the state failed to present a question of law arising from Caputo’s ruling.

That means the case against Miller cannot proceed, Aspan said.

“It’s a unique law,” Aspan said. “If you win that hearing, the case is dismissed. The state appealed that.”

Aspan said he did not know whether there have been other cases in Oklahoma where the accused is deemed by a judge to be immune from prosecution under the Stand Your Ground law, but if there are they are very rare.

That’s because the three-pronged test for such cases — whether the person is an owner or occupier of a residence or vehicle, whether the shooting victim was unlawfully entering into the car or residence, and whether the shooter was engaged in some form of unlawful activity at the time defensive force was used — is often hard to meet, Aspan said.

“The thing that really is unique – it’s really hard to win these hearings because of the third prong to the test, that is your client cannot be involved in criminal activity at the time,” Aspan said. “There’s never going to be an avalanche of people getting out from under things because it’s really a rare circumstance where you can meet all three prongs.”

In this case, however, Aspan said he believed the law worked as intended.

“I believe we put forth the proper set of facts and this is what the law is crafted to do — to prevent homeowners who run into these situations from having to take the risk of letting 12 people make a decision,” Aspan said. “It worked out.”