A Tarrant County jury has acquitted a man who claimed self-defense in the stabbing death of his cousin.
Brandon Neil Lemons, 27, of Fort Worth was found not guilty of murder Friday in the death of Paul Welch Jr., 23, who was stabbed in the chest June 13, according to court documents.
“It’s really a big relief,” said Shawn Paschall, Lemons’ attorney. “From the beginning, I felt my client was not guilty. In my mind, it was a clear case of self-defense.”
Paschall said his client was at home when Welch came by and threatened to beat Lemons.
“My client ran away,” Paschall said.
Lemons walked around his neighborhood in the 4900 block of Cedar Hill Road in southwest Fort Worth for 15 to 20 minutes before being spotted by Welch and another cousin, David Burdine.
Welch got out of a vehicle and started hitting Lemons, Paschall said. Lemons had taken a knife with him because he knew that Welch was violent and was affiliated with a gang, Paschall said.
“Welch had been to prison twice, and he was a bad dude,” Paschall said. “Brandon had to stab him to get out of that situation.”
According to court documents filed with the Tarrant County district clerk’s office, Burdine said that Welch started the fight and that Lemons was afraid of him.
The case was prosecuted by Lisa Callaghan and Paige McCormick. Callaghan said that from the state’s point of view, because Welch was not armed and did not threaten to use deadly force, it was best for a jury to decide whether Lemons’ actions were justified.
“The state’s position was that this was a case of a fistfight between two cousins,” Callaghan said.
The jury worked for a number of hours before reaching a conclusion, Callaghan said.
At the scene of the stabbing, Lemons was heard saying that he acted in self-defense and did nothing wrong, court documents showed.
Prosecutors offered Lemons a 30-year prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, Paschall said. The defendant’s acknowledgment of the offer was filed Sept. 29 in the district clerk’s office, court records show.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752