Washington v. Grott (Majority)Annotate this Case
Respondent Robert Grott was put on trial for a shooting incident in which he claimed he acted in self-defense. He appealed to the Washington Supreme Court contending the trial court erred in instructing his jury that Grott could not claim self-defense if the jury found "beyond a reasonable doubt that [Grott] was the aggressor, and that defendant's acts and conduct provoked or commenced the fight." Grott maintained the instruction was improperly given because it was unsupported by the evidence presented at trial. Grott's brother and cousins were friends with Julian Thomas, and Thomas would sometimes spend the night at their house. In August 2015, one of Grott's handguns went missing. Grott and his brother came to believe that Thomas had stolen the gun, but they did not confront him about it. Thomas stopped coming by their house around that time. Then on Halloween night in 2015, Grott came home intoxicated. Thomas' younger sister was at the house with some friends. Grott began yelling at the sister, accusing Thomas of stealing the gun. A man standing at the end of the driveway shot through the house's front door, nearly missing Grott's head. After the Halloween incident, Grott became "paranoid" and bought another gun. Months later, Thomas was shot while sitting in a car parked in a convenience store parking lot. Forty-eight shell casings were retrieved from the scene. The medical examiner testified that based on Thomas' wounds, he must have been directly facing Grott rather than lying on the car floor. A loaded gun with the safety off was discovered beneath Thomas' body. The Court of Appeals concurred with Grott the first-aggressor instruction was not properly given, but the Washington Supreme Court reversed the appellate court. The Supreme Court determined the jury was properly instructed, and Grott's trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to object. The matter was remanded for the Court of Appeals to address other issues raised on appeal.