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Ruling on self-defense claim expected Friday

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A man accused of killing another man on East 19th Street earlier this year claims he was acting in self-defense, which Judge Billy Sparks is expected to rule on today.

Michael David Yates, 22, of 8 Everett Springs Road, is charged with murder in the Jan. 13 shooting death of 38-year-old Scotty Dale Graham. The opening day of the trial is scheduled for Monday, but Sparks’ ruling is needed to solve the legal matter before a trial can begin.

According to information presented in court:

During a hearing in Floyd County Superior Court Thursday, Yates’ attorney, Robert Rutledge, attempted to lay out the events leading up to the shooting to show his client was defending himself from being robbed.

Rutledge said Graham and two others had planned to rob Yates, who had come to the concrete-block home in a trailer park off East 19th Street in a stolen truck. Yates was warned he was going to be robbed, leading to an altercation between the two men that morning.

A fight ensued and Rutledge said Yates was hit in the head by Graham and pushed up against the bed of the truck before being taken to the ground. Yates then got up and pulled a pistol on Graham, firing two shots into his chest around 6:40 a.m.

Yates then fled the scene in the truck, which struck another vehicle down the road and he left on foot. Police arrested Yates following a traffic stop late that night in Bartow County.

Michael Wayne Huskins, a longtime friend of Graham’s who was a witness to the incident, was called on by Rutledge to testify. He said he had been coming down from taking methamphetamine and was sleeping in the home that morning. He woke up around 6 a.m. and those in the house, which was a hotspot for selling drugs, were talking about money, but he didn’t want anything to do with it.

Huskins said people at the home were upset with Yates’ presence because he kept showing up with stolen items. He told Rome police investigator Pete Sailors in an interview, the video of which was played by Rutledge Thursday, that he told Graham not to take the truck Yates had and to leave it alone.

When he heard people arguing outside, Huskins went to the door and looked out, seeing the two men fighting. He said Yates was a couple feet away from Graham when he shot him.

“It was like time stopped,” Huskins said.

Yates is additionally charged with two counts of theft by receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of an offensive weapon during the commission of a crime, two counts of aggravated assault, reckless conduct, and aggravated battery.