After year in jail, Dayton man found not guilty in death of 61-year-old

Prosecutor says ‘stand your ground’ law a factor in cases such as this.

Charges have been dismissed against a Dayton man in the death of a 61-year-old year old man who was reportedly stabbed during an argument.

A jury found 31-year-old Aaron Vance not guilty of murder and felonious assault after a trial this week, according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records.

“This was a self-defense case. Mr. Vance asserted his right to self defense,” said defense attorney Ben Swift. “He has been in jail over a year. He is relieved the jury decided he acted correctly in this case in order to protect himself, and he is happy to have this matter behind him.”

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Prosecutors said a new Ohio law played a role in the outcome.

“When Senate Bill 175, the new law commonly known as the ‘stand your ground’ law, was passed, there were many criminal justice experts around the state who predicted that the new legislation would result in more defendants being acquitted, such as this, especially when the only living witness is the defendant,” said prosecutor Ann Gramza. “The police and prosecutors are seeing a significant increase in self-defense claims under this new law.”

The charges stemmed from the death of Bart Atkins last year.

On May 16, 2021, Dayton police responded to a Troy Street convenience store on a report of a stabbing.

When they arrived, they found a man, later identified as Vance, providing first aid to Atkins, according to police.

An investigation revealed Vance and Atkins were arguing when Vance stabbed him, according to a release previously issued by the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Atkins was taken to the hospital, where he died during surgery.

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