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Seabrook optometrist fired shots in self-defense, attorney tells jurors in murder trial

A Seabrook optometrist was in “a fight for his life” when he fatally shot a 36-year-old neighbor who had crashed the doctor’s late-night party, defense attorneys told jurors Monday.

Karl Edward Hormann, 56, had already called police when Brandon Smith brandished a knife and was threatening his guests, including several teenagers, attorney Skip Cornelius told the jurors.

“Little did (Hormann)know when he went to bed that in about six and a half hours, he would be in a fight for his life,” Cornelius said.

Prosecutors, however, told jurors during the trial’s opening statements that Smith did not have a weapon and was trying to leave the scene when he was shot.

Whether Hormann shot Smith in self-defense or not is at the heart of the murder case now under way in the Harris County courthouse.

Assistant Harris County District Attorney Aaron Chapman told jurors Monday that Smith lived at his parent’s home and could not hold a job. He had brain damage after being in a wreck when he was 18.

“He was kind of stuck in a teenager’s mindset,” Chapman said during opening statements. “Also, he developed a problem with alcohol.”

Both sides agreed that Smith was trespassing at a Memorial Day Weekend crawfish boil in 2013 at Taylor Lake. He was kicked out after words were exchanged about 2 a.m., then returned a couple of hours later and the altercation escalated.

Cornelius said Hormann and his son used their cell phones to call the police. Smith finally left through the front gate and Hormann followed him to keep an eye on him as he waited for police to arrive.

Cornelius said Smith charged the optometrist and Hormann fired. He said powder burns on Smith’s skins would show he was close enough to take the gun when he was shot in the head and abdomen.

Chapman, however, said Hormann pulled a pistol with a laser sight on Smith as he was trying to leave.

Hormann was not arrested at the scene but was indicted months later on a charge of murder.

The trial, in state District Judge Marc Carter‘s court, is expected to last about a week.

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