The man accused in the shooting death of a former Fulton High School basketball player appeared in Knox County court for a preliminary hearing.
Isaiah Styles, 18, faces charges for second degree murder in the shooting death of Mekhi Luster, 18.
Styles admitted to a Knox County detective about opening fire on Luster earlier this year, after a drug deal gone wrong in West Knox County.
“The altercation occurred at the vehicle where the defendant approached the victim,” the detective said. “There was a conversation about gas money and then the defendant took the victim’s gun.”
Defense attorney Greg Isaacs said Styles fired in self defense.
“He had a reasonable belief that he was in imminent fear of death or bodily harm,” Isaacs said.
The state argued against that theory, telling the court that Styles’ behavior after that fact was not consistent of that of an innocent man. Prosecutors said Styles evaded arrest and initially lied to officers about the confrontation.
“We know here that this defendant didn’t stay at the scene and claim this was self defense,” the state said. “Instead, he chose to run away from the scene and not only that but he also hid and concealed himself in an area and did not come out when he was prompted to do so by officers.”
But in the end, the matter came down to evidence, with the defense making the case that there was no intent to kill and that the state’s proof for second degree murder was insufficient.
“He’s charged with second degree homicide which is a knowing killing offense of another,” Isaacs said. “It is undisputed that Mr. Styles and Mr. Luster engaged each other in a minor drug transaction for marijuana. It’s undisputed the transaction did not take place and Mr. Luster was angry. It is undisputed that Mr. Styles reached for a gun when Mr. Luster reached for the gun because Mr. Styles feared for his life.”
A judge bound the case over to a grand jury.