Michael R. White stood in the witness stand yesterday at Fairfax County Circuit Court and, holding an imaginary sledgehammer, demonstrated how Emery C. Buckman allegedly came toward him before White fatally shot the 28-year-old man last July.
"I reached down and got my gun and said: 'I got a gun, man, I got a gun,' " White said. "I fired a shot and tried to hit him in the shoulder."
White's testimony came on the second and final day of his trial on charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. He has pleaded not guilty.
White, 26, was charged in the death of Buckman, who was fatally shot outside his house at 2840 Bisvey Dr. in Fairfax County. It was the first -- and to date only -- homicide in the county this year.
Defense attorney Edwin C. Brown Jr. acknowledged that his client had gone to the house on the cul-de-sac with a few friends to sell some drugs. But in his closing argument he told the jurors they should not consider that in their deliberations.
"The mere fact that an individual uses narcotics on a limited basis does not make him a killer," Brown said. "We think the evidence clearly establishes that the defendant acted in self-defense."
But Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. vehemently disagreed. "He intended to hit him, he did hit him, he shot him and he killed him," Horan said, as members of White's family shifted in their seats. "Did Michael White have a right, a right in law to kill that man? Did he have a right?"
Horan said Buckman was very upset that weekday evening because he was trying to get White and his friends to leave his property. But he said White, of 2113 Maryland Ave. NE in the District, did not have a right to shoot Buckman when Buckman walked outside his house toward White and his friends and threatened them with a sledgehammer.
The prosecutor disputed White's contention that the defendant was in mortal fear for his life and said White was just sitting in his car. "He's sitting there in his little Mitsubishi sports car and he isn't going anywhere."
The defense maintained that Buckman came within a few feet of White in his car, swinging the sledgehammer like a baseball bat. Horan, however, pointed to the testimony of one of White's friends, who said Buckman was not that close to White.
The jurors were instructed to find White guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder or to find him not guilty. The jurors deliberated about three hours without reaching a verdict and were sent home by Judge Thomas A. Fortkort. They will reconvene this morning.