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Is Defense Attorney David Appleton a Murderer?

Scottsdale defense attorney David Appleton fatally shot a father of three during an apparent road-rage incident earlier this month. Yesterday, we learned that the second-degree murder charge against him has been dropped -- for now.

"We've asked the Scottsdale Police Department for some additional investigation before making a final charging decision," Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, told New Times yesterday.

Click here for all the details about the road-rage incident that left 50-year-old Paul Pearson dead.

In short, here's how the shooting went down: Pearson and Appleton got into an argument at an intersection in north Scottsdale. Pearson followed Appleton to a nearby parking lot, got out of his car, and walked up to Appleton's vehicle. Appleton, who'd already retrieved his pistol from his glove compartment, claims Pearson then choked him, despite the fact that police say there's nothing to indicate a choking ever took place. Appleton then fired one shot, killing Pearson.

Appleton's attorney, Richard Gierloff, tells New Times his client has the law on his side and the shooting was a "justifiable use of force."

Based on Arizona law, he might be right -- according to Gierloff, Arizona has a law (which hasn't been adopted by any other state in the country, mind you) that states a person is authorized to "use deadly physical force to prevent somebody from entering your car, or drag you out of your car, and there's no duty to retreat in either of those situations."

However, Pearson was unarmed -- and aside from that fact that Appleton could have simply put his foot on the gas to get away from Pearson (rather than his finger on the trigger), the attorney's got a bit of a history in terms of road rage, which includes two other incidents this year where police determined Appleton was the aggressor.

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Appleton could still face a murder rap. Gierloff, however, says he doesn't expect any charges to be filed against his client.

We want to know what you think: is David Appleton a murderer?

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