A Maryland man who shot an acquaintance who was threatening him on his property has been cleared of murder and manslaughter.
The Capital Gazette reported that Gregory Korwek was acquitted on felony firearms charges in addition to murder and manslaughter relating to the 2019 shooting death of Korwek’s acquaintance, 44-year-old Jeffrey Dickinson.
Korwek previously had hired Dickinson as a carpenter to work on his home ahead of a party. Korwek even recommended Dickinson to a friend, but that friend fired the carpenter for drinking on the job. Dickinson believed the friend, Justin Fiorenza, owed him money for the job, but Fiorenza denied it. Five days’ worth of text messages between the two were presented as evidence during the trial.
Dickinson turned his anger toward Korwek. Korwek called 911 prior to the shooting to report that Dickinson had threatened to burn his house down. Dickinson also allegedly threatened to harm Korwek’s mother-in-law.
Korwek had told police he was armed and told Dickinson that police had been called. Korwek said he told Dickinson in text messages that they could talk things out once everyone calmed down.
Dickinson rode a motor scooter to Korwek’s house. Korwek told him to leave, but Dickinson rushed toward him. Dickinson dropped the scooter, which was a gift from Korwek, near the garage and continued to charge the homeowner. Korwek asked him to stop and Dickinson demanded Korwek give him the shotgun he was holding. Korwek then fired, killing Dickinson.
Dickinson was unarmed during the altercation, but a toxicology report found alcohol in his system as well as traces of fentanyl and cocaine.
Korwek again called police, frantic, telling them he had killed Dickinson. Authorities arrived and pronounced Dickinson dead on the scene.
Korwek’s defense attorney, Peter O’Neill, told the jury that if shooting Dickinson was “not justified under these facts… then there is no right to use self-defense.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Steinhardt told the jury that “Deadly force is supposed to be a last resort, not a first impulse.” O’Neill countered that “You don’t have to let somebody beat you up before you shoot them.”
At trial, two different pictures of Dickinson were portrayed. His family said he was funny and smart, while prosecutors displayed a photo of him smiling with his child. Others described him as emaciated and having rotting teeth.
While Korwek was acquitted on murder and manslaughter charges, as well as some firearms charges, he still faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to illegally possessing the shotgun that killed Dickinson. The Gazette reported that police also found drugs and “scores of guns he was not allowed to have because of a prior conviction.” The trial for these charges will take place in November.
Korwek’s defense attorney, O’Neill, said his client bought the guns legally but didn’t know about new state regulations at the time.
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