- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - A 69-year-old man charged with murder in the fatal shooting of another motorist in southeastern Michigan fired in self-defense after being punched in the jaw, a defense lawyer told jurors Tuesday.

The case has been described as a fatal incident of road rage. But Martin Zale’s attorney said it was the victim, Derek Flemming, who was the aggressor, not her client.

Zale “had no other way to get out of it than to revert to his training and shoot in self-defense,” Melissa Pearce said in her opening remarks.

Flemming, 43, was killed last September near Howell, 45 miles northwest of Detroit. His wife, Amy Flemming, has said he walked up to Zale’s pickup truck to complain about aggressive driving while both were stopped in traffic.

Assistant prosecutor Daniel Rose told the jury that none of his witnesses will say that Flemming punched Zale, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus reported (https://bit.ly/1FNmavB ).

“The shot came so fast (Flemming) didn’t see it coming. … The act he committed was nothing short of murder,” Rose said of Zale.

Pearce said Zale was aware of news stories about a Detroit-area soccer referee who was killed by a punch last summer and a local man who was pulled from a car and beaten.

Those incidents, along with a heart condition, put Zale in “imminent fear” when he pulled the trigger, she said.

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