Former U of M QB Philip Nelson might have compelling self-defense case, Rosenbaum says

Categories: Law
shelleyNelson.jpg
The cases against Shelley (left) and Nelson aren't as open and shut as they might seem, Rosenbaum says.
Early Sunday morning, 24-year-old Isaac Kolstad was left in critical condition following a knockout punch/kick to head combo allegedly delivered by Trevor Shelley and Philip Nelson, respectively. (Read the backstory here.)

Nelson, a former Minnesota Mr. Football and Gophers starting quarterback, has understandably taken a lot of criticism for literally (though allegedly) kicking Kolstand while he was down on a downtown Mankato street. But reached for comment today, Twin Cities attorney and legal expert Ron Rosenbaum tells us he thinks Nelson and Shelley have stronger cases than people might think.

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"There's at least one police report which from what I've seen has been un-contradicted that says Kolstad threw the first shot at Nelson from behind," Rosenbaum says. "He gets hit hard enough to knock him down and maybe even knock some other people over in the process, and he's not a small guy. He could be down and dazed, there may be people around him, it's dark, he [gets up and] sees the guy on the ground but doesn't know arguably that the threat is gone and he takes a measure of retaliation to stop the threat."

"What [Nelson] may or may not have known was that once he was knocked down a guy comes out of nowhere and lands a vicious blow on Kolstad to the head," Rosenbaum continues. "Nelson, arguably from his standpoint, would have no way of knowing the extent of the damage that the blow caused, so arguably would think there was still a threat."

Rosenbaum says a similar line of legal logic could be used to mount a defense for Shelley.

"Remember that Shelley has the right to self-defense against himself and against others," he says. "The argument for Shelley would be he sees a guy strike Nelson, who he may or may not know, hard enough to knock a big guy like him down, and he comes to his defense using the exact same level of force against Kolstad that Kolstad used against Nelson -- to wit, a punch. Arguably he's got a colorable self-defense claim in that he's defending somebody else."

"The right of self-defense is based on what a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances," Rosenbaum continues. "The way it's been reported, it looks like it's an open-and-shut case, and I believe that once facts are developed, I wouldn't be surprised if the case doesn't look a little different."

It also doesn't hurt that Nelson, at least, has an accomplished attorney representing him -- Jim Fleming, the same guy who represented recently reinstated MSU-Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner during his child porn charges ordeal.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.



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31 comments
fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

The "he wasn't aware the threat was neutralised" defense sounds much like the defense police officers use when scolded for continuing to Taser or baton-strike an unconscious/compliant arrestee.


Similar personalities I bet.

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

It all happened in 10 seconds and phil was punched hard enough to fall down. His argument will be he didn't know he was unconscious. And he will probably win the case with that argument

Evan Shanley
Evan Shanley

He kicked an unconscious man in the head. Not sure how that self-defense argument is going to go for him.

Marty Mogensen
Marty Mogensen

Kicking an unconscious person in the head is not protecting yourself.

Marcus LeVesseur
Marcus LeVesseur

My thoughts on this is, it's totally messed up all around the board. When liquor is in the system things happen and people need to be held accountable. My biggest wonder is the coin theory (heads and tails). The story we hear is tails let say, (black guy hospitalized, white guys being the other party). The other side of the coin (heads) would be there's a white guy hospitalized and black guys being the other party. Idk, you call it. It's messed up regardless of what happens.

Matt Schiefelbein
Matt Schiefelbein

Let em rot. An overprotective loser boyfriend and some dumbasses who walks up and sticks his head where it doesn't belong. They took a father away from his kids. Yes, let them fucking rot.

Mark Bendik
Mark Bendik

All of you understand one thing, a person is hurt, maybe never to do normal things again, over what words!! If you think this is cool , get your heads out of your asses

JM Rolloff
JM Rolloff

I think it is safe to assume there's more evidence than the drips and drabs the government has seen fit to provide - villianizing the accused. That being said, Mr. Rosenbaum appears all to happy to speak with the authority of an insider on the case-of-the-day ... for as with those blow-viaitors on cable TV what does he lose to be wrong? In the final analysis, the criminal liability (or lack there) of these young men is one the start of the problems they'll face. A life was lost here ... Very sad for all involved.

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

he did not. I get that its assumed nelson was drunk. Who knows where he drank at this point. And that would not matter. Just because you are underage and drunk doesn't mean you cant stand up for yourself. Trust me, everyone knows nelson is scum and should be guilty, but the state gives him that right to protect himself

Karl Schneider
Karl Schneider

did he include in the scenario about why 2 minors (Nelson and girlfriend) were drinking at the bar at 2 am? They weren't just innocently walking along and got attacked from behind like your scenario suggests.

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

that someone is ron rosenbaum. the "expert lawyer" cited in this piece. read it

Gah...NO__GARrrr
Gah...NO__GARrrr

Um... Doubt it. Based on the instructions I heard regarding self-defense when sitting on a grand jury, this wouldn't meet the criteria at all. 

Brian Mazur
Brian Mazur

I havent heard anyone refute the story that Kolstad threw the first punch

John Bunch
John Bunch

It would be extremely hard to argue that stomping a man in the head while he was down is self-defense. But maybe there is some aspect I don't understan.

Dewey Schmidt
Dewey Schmidt

Kicking someone in the head while down and then leaving the the site is not a sign of self defense.

Karl Schneider
Karl Schneider

Someone on kfan "painted a scenario", Tim? Yeah that should hold up in court. Throw the video footage away, some sports radio guy has a scenario he painted up!

Tom Hackett
Tom Hackett

I think that sucker punching someone and kicking them while they're down is the exact opposite of self defense.

Kelly McNutt
Kelly McNutt

I have reacted differently, yes, but the thug wasn't already down on the ground.

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

I'm sure you'd react much differently when some random thug attacks you from behind.

Damian Amberg
Damian Amberg

Hey, we've seen the screen captures, we have all the proof we need, screw the justice system and all this fairness crap. We have already convicted them in the court of Social Media. Huzzah!

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

All happened within 10 seconds. Listen to rosenbaum on kfan yesterday. Painted a scenario. You are walking and get punched by someone hard enough to fall down. You stand up and see him on the ground. Are you gonna go check his pulse?

Kelly McNutt
Kelly McNutt

He totally had to kick Kolstad in the head when he was already down. /rolleyes/

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Yeah, because kicking a person on the ground in the head twice is almost as compelling a case of self defense as is executing a pair of incapacitated teens who had broken into your house.

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

Nelson innocent. It's a joke but it's the country we live in

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