Teen who yelled ‘mess with me, you die' loses bid to have murder conviction tossed

Self defense murder decision

HOLLAND, MICH. - A teen who claimed he was acting in self-defense when he fatally stabbed a rival lost a bid to have his 2015 second-degree murder conviction overturned.

Victor Vison Donaldson was sentenced to between 10 and 30 years in prison for the July 31, 2014 stabbing. He was 16 at the time.

In his appeal, Donaldson said the evidence did not support a second-degree murder conviction. He also claims a new trial should have been granted because one of the jurors did independent research on self-defense.

In a five-page decision released Friday, Sept. 15, the Court of Appeals disagreed.

“The evidence reasonably supports a conclusion that Donaldson did not need to resort to the use of deadly force,’’ the three-judge panel wrote.

He also said a new trial was warranted “because a juror conducted online research about self-defense and bringing that research to court deprived him of his constitutional rights to a trial by a fair and impartial jury.’’

The Court of Appeals shot down that argument as well. The juror who conducted the research was an alternate who was not one of the 12 involved in deliberations, justices said.

Donaldson, now 19, is at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian. He is not eligible for release until July, 2024.

The victim, 18-year-old Ja’Paris Rodgers, was stabbed in the chest during a confrontation on Riley Street near 136th Avenue in Ottawa County’s Holland Township.

Prosecutors said there was bad blood between Donaldson and Rodgers. Donaldson carried a pocket knife and told a friend “If I gotta use it, I’ll use it, like if someone messes with me,’’ court records show.

He encountered Rodgers and a fight ensued.  A witness to the altercation testified that Donaldson yelled “you mess with me, you die’’ before Donaldson fled the scene.

An autopsy revealed that Rodgers died from a stab wound to the heart.

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