Donald Hayes (courtesy wdrb.com)

Bob Irwin writes [via Ammoland.com]

WDRB-TV 41 in Louisville, Kentucky reports that a 67-year-old hot dog vendor Donald Hayes was charged with murder for shooting Danny Wilson during a road rage incident in June of 2014. It started when the defendant and Wilson allegedly cut each other off in traffic on the Watterson Expressway. When they exited onto Poplar Level Road, things escalated. Hayes testified that he shot in self-defense after Wilson smashed his driver’s window with a baseball bat . . .

Wilson died as a result of his wounds. After deliberating for about two hours, the jury found the defendant not guilty.

In a statement to the media the defense attorney said, “He (our client) is doing very well. It’s a huge relief for all of us. It’s a huge relief. Our condolences still go out to the 57 year olds family. But we are very satisfied with the results.”

The Head of the LMPD Homicide Unit commented “From knowing the case as well as we did, we thought (it) was more of a road rage case than self-defense. Self-defense became a factor in the courtroom, but when it happened, it was road rage on both sides and the road rage ultimately ended up as shots being fired and the victim being killed.”

Evidence of a prior road rage incident involving Mr. Hayes was excluded by the court.

31 Responses to Donald Hayes Not Guilty In Serial Road Rager’s Murder Trial

  1. Probably not best to bash someone’s windshield with a bat while they are in the car.
    Just saying…..

  2. Not all road rage is road rage. Some people are, in fact, a$sholes, and must be dealt with accordingly.

  3. “Hayes testified that he shot in self-defense after Wilson smashed his driver’s window with a baseball bat . . .”

    Why did that case need a trial in the first place?

    • Because the homicide unit thought it was a mutual combat, and someone died. Add in the fact that this was not the defendant’s first time, a fact excluded by the trial court, and the police believed they had a hot head who allowed or encouraged a situation to get out of hand.

      • The article is incorrect. The excluded evidence was for prior road rage incidents for Mr Wilson, not Mr. Hayes. The judge refused to let at least 3 people testify about prior road rage incidents involving the victim, probably because he wasn’t alive to be able to give his side of the story. I know because I was one of the 3 people that encountered Mr Wilson on the street. He wasn’t a bad guy, but he had one hell of a temper on the road and this time it cost him his life.

    • Willing participant. Unfortunately the shooter made the mistake of responding to the road-rager with some road-rage of his own. That made it iffy. As an armed citizen, you shouldn’t respond to somebody’s negative behavior. The shooter forgot that rule.

      • To be clear, in most jurisdictions, it is okay to try to deescalate the situation as a response. I recommend taking an exit if you have one, though. In some places, like Arizona, we are allowed to tell an assailant that we are armed without facing accusations of brandishing, and nothing deescalates a confrontation with a violent hot-head better than warning them that they cannot possibly win.

      • “As an armed citizen, you shouldn’t respond to somebody’s negative behavior.”

        True in most cases but certainly not if you are being directly threatened. Having survived an incredibly deadly road-rage incident where the guy was actively trying to kill us (no threats—the real deal) I came away from the experience with a hard lesson: make sure you’re in a vehicle that’s fast enough and good handling enough to get away from the threat. We were in a car that was fast enough to easily outrun the threat. It saved our lives.

  4. Road rage my rear end. You swing a baseball bat at me. I will shoot your butt given the chance and happily possibly suffer the consiquences of the law. Which here is thankfully not going to be a chargeable offence.

  5. “… we thought (it) was more of a road rage case than self-defense.”

    That statement requires analysis. Self-defense is binary: either the person
    needs to defend himself or not. It would seem that being attacked with a baseball
    bat with sufficient force to smash a car window is a prima facie threat to life.

    Who cares about the state of mind of the defender? Am I not allowed to defend myself
    against a lethal threat simply because I am furious at the attacker? Are only Zen masters
    entitled to self-defense?

    I would add that had I not been enraged from the outset, the attack itself would enrage me.

    Could someone please explain the “reasoning” of the prosecutors.

    • I believe this has been discussed here in the past. If you instigate a confrontation, or escalate it, and ultimately shoot the other guy, the self defense argument becomes questionable or even void. Sounds like this guy has a history of being a jerk behind the wheel. That being said, smashing a window next to someone’s head is good way to get yourself shot. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      • If you instigate it or escalate it, your overt actions demonstrate that you’ve consented to the combat. Self-defense as a legal argument is not applicable at that point.

        However, legally, once you disengage and abandon the fight, it’s over. If the other guy pursues and restarts the fight, then that’s a new fight and he’s now the aggressor. You’re entitled to a legal defense of self-defense in that case.

        Accounts of the actual facts on the ground, with or without witnesses, are bound to be blurry, contradictory, and will make difficult alignment with the tidy requirements of the law, of course, but that is the law.

    • Apparently nothing went wrong. 1 asshole is dead and the other is likely so bankrupted by his legal bills that he’ll be unable to afford a car to rage with.

  6. “The biggest thing that wasn’t brought up was that Danny Wilson was not a bad guy. He would help anybody. He would give you the shirt off his back, and they portrayed him as a bad guy, and I’m not sure the jury got some of that information,” Danny Wilson’s family member, Don Wolfe said.

    Hmmm… Imagine that. Turns out that loved ones of white vicious, violent thugs play the phony baloney “He’s not really like that! He was an angel!” card, too.

    Your boy was a hot headed bully and a road raging terror. Good riddance.

  7. How does “road rage” play any part in this? I don’t care how two people drive or how mad they become. And I don’t care if driver A and driver B pull over. When driver A gets out with a baseball bat, charges over to driver B’s car, and smashes driver B’s window, that is a reasonable, credible, imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death and I believe driver B would be justified to use deadly force to repel driver A’s rampage. As it turns out, driver B’s jury agrees with me.

  8. What a load of crap. Regardless of the circumstances immediately before, the deceased produced a weapon and showed an intent to use it as a weapon and he got aerated for this stupid decision.

    The gem to me was ‘”The biggest thing that wasn’t brought up was that Danny Wilson was not a bad guy. He would help anybody. He would give you the shirt off his back, and they portrayed him as a bad guy, and I’m not sure the jury got some of that information,” Danny Wilson’s family member, Don Wolfe said.’

    Yeah, cause smashing in a window with a bat during a road rage incident is what all “nice guys” do.

    The only substantive difference between this guy and the guys in this link are that they’re not dead and they videotaped their stupidity.

  9. Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes.

    I’d rather fight some young punk than an old white guy who might have a gun and is probably pretty well versed on it’s use….Hey wait, I resemble that remark!

  10. 67 year old shoots a 57 year old-makes sense to me. Personally I’m trying to calm down in my old age…

  11. Road rage is bad but if one person is inside their car while the other tries to break in with a baseball bat it becomes self-defense.

  12. He could have driven to a police station. Carriers are to de-escalate. If we only focus on moment bat hits windshield it becomes self defense. Yet, why pull over? Why not drive away after other guy gets out of car?

    Legally in some states your car is like your house so the castle doctrine applies.

    Calling the police and driving to a police station is the manly thing to do. The reptilian forebrain bundle says, “I have a right to defend myself.” We do, after every other exit is taken.

    • Although it is all but impossible to 2nd guess what decisions were made at the time or to believe the accusations from an ambitious Prosecutor, but you are mostly right. As a carrier, the police are your backup. Any confrontation can turn really bad really quickly. What if you pull over to exchange words with an aggressive driver, and he comes out of his car with a long gun. If all you have is a short, concealable pistol, the other guy can plug holes in you from a distance. What if the aggressor walks over all apologetic and seemingly calm, and then after you put your guard down and he is close enough, he puts a knife into your gut. I could go through hundreds of scenarios where being alone is not ideal. In my military law enforcement days, we always called for backup if there was any possibility that the person we were dealing with could turn aggressive. If you are alone with a potential threat, you are vulnerable, so avoid it.

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