Murder suspect testifies in 'stand your ground' hearing

31-year-old killed in dispute over cutting barbecue meat

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man accused in a deadly baseball bat beating over barbecued ribs is seeking immunity from prosecution, citing Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law.

Alvin Welch, 35, told a judge Wednesday he was in fear for his life when he hit 31-year-old Joshua Heinz once in the head with a baseball bat. Heinz died eight hours later.

Welch, who has five previous felony convictions, has been in jail since the killing in January. His attorney told the judge Wednesday he struck and killed Heinz with a bat in self-defense.

Welch is hoping his case ends with the stand your ground ruling and doesn't go to trial.

Joshua Heinz
Joshua Heinz

"He was telling me I was cutting it wrong, I was cutting the best part of the meat off," Welch said, describing what led to the killing. "And I was trying to tell him it looked burnt and I didn't want to eat that part of it, and he was getting angry."

Welch said he was in Heinz's apartment with about 15 other people at an NFL playoff watch party. He admits he and Heinz were both high on marijuana and had been drinking alcohol for more than 10 hours.

Welch said Heinz snatched a knife out of his hand in the kitchen, and that's when he ran for the front door. He said Heinz quickly followed with the carving knife in his hand, so Welch grabbed a baseball bat.

"I pulled the bat up and hit him once in the head to keep him from stabbing me," Welch said.

Prosecutors argued that Heinz never threatened Welch's life as he approached him in the hallway leading to the front door. Prosecutors said Welch could have done something else to diffuse the situation rather than resorting to violence.

The judge had several questions of his own.

"And you testified multiple times that you swung with one hand, and I think you used the words 'up and over'?" the judge asked.

Welch told the judge Heinz had a history of violent confrontations, which is why he felt his life was in danger.

The judge is reviewing both written eyewitness and police statements rather than listen to their testimony.

The judge has agreed to listen to closing arguments in this case later on this month.

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