SAN ANGELO, TX — A jury of 10 women and two men acquitted a man Wednesday. The man was accused of stabbing his roommate in an apartment near Angelo State University and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
According to the police report, Christopher Wheeler, 31 at the time of the incident in July of last year, was in a fight with another male in his residence at the Quadrangle Apartments, 3425 YMCA Dr. As the fight escalated, Wheeler obtained a knife and stabbed the other man. That man was staying with Wheeler in the apartment at the time, according to court testimony.
Police said Wheeler fled the scene after the incident while a neighbor called 9-1-1 to report a fight at the apartments.
Police found Wheeler near the intersection of S. Johnson St. and Knickerbocker Rd. shortly after the incident.
The defense argued the use of the knife was in self-defense.
Wheeler’s defense attorney, Brian Raymond, put Wheeler on the stand. The defendant explained to the jury that the victim had attacked him because Wheeler wouldn’t give the man money. The defendant’s testimony included being sexually assaulted and strangled by the victim as the reason he had to defend himself with the knife.
The manager of the Quadrangle Apartments testified that she felt compelled in the past to counsel the defendant about his partner’s abuse as she suspected the victim had been taking advantage of and was hurting Wheeler. Mental health professionals have treated Wheeler in the past.
In testimony, Wheeler said he thought his temporary roommate would purchase drugs with the money and the argument turned into a fight. He further stated that he wasn’t fleeing the scene after the alleged stabbing, but that he had a job at a local fast food restaurant and was late to work, to where he was walking.
The man Wheeler was accused of stabbing suffered a minor, non-life-threatening injury caused by a knife.
In court a question was posed, should the defense be able to bring up the drug use of the State’s only witness?
The State objected, the jury was dismissed, and a discussion with Judge Brad Goodwin commenced.
In the end, defense attorney Raymond was allowed to attack the credibility of the only witness to the incident, by questioning her drug use, extensive criminal history and contrasting testimony.
The victim did not testify in court during the trial, nor was he present.
After a couple hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The self-defense argument may have resonated with the panel of 12.
Wheeler, who has been in the county jail since July of last year, remains in jail the day after his exoneration for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, however. He is facing earlier charges of assault on a public servant for spitting on a mental health officer, and another charge for forging a check. He has two $10,000 bonds.