The State charged Michael Relfe with assault in the first degree based on a road rage incident that began with an obscene gesture and ended in Relfe shooting James Lee. Relfe claimed that he acted in self-defense. A jury convicted Relfe as charged. Relfe appeals...**SNIP**
While they were stopped at a traffic light, Relfe and Lee exchanged obscene hand gestures. Lee was driving a flatbed truck, and Relfe was driving a small car. Lee sideswiped Relfe's car on the driver's side. In a taped statement to police, Relfe said that he followed Lee to get his license number. According to Relfe, they stopped on the side of the road three times during the pursuit and at each stop Lee got out of his truck, reached into Relfe's car, and physically assaulted him.
Relfe said that the last time, Lee "stuck half his body inside my car again and started manhandling, beating me, slapping me and hitting me. At which point, I had my revolver on the passenger seat and to protect myself, I was in fear of my life, I used it." When Lee saw the gun, he turned around and began to leave. Relfe fired one shot, hitting Lee in the back.
Relfe told police that he intentionally shot Lee. He also stated that he felt threatened and that his intention was just to scare Lee. Relfe's statement included the following exchange:
DET: Now when you shot him, what was, what were your intentions when
you used your weapon?
[Relfe]: Just to scare him.
. . . .
DET: Okay when you shot your revolver, were you . . .
[Relfe]: I wasn't aimin at him.
[Relfe]: I was just, I just pointed it.
DET: You pointed it.
DET: In his direction though.
[Relfe]: Well yeah, to scare him.