Teen charged in text message murder will ask judge to drop charge, claiming self defense

Published: Mar. 28, 2017 at 7:39 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2017 at 12:13 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A teenager accused of murder will ask a judge to drop the charge Wednesday, claiming he acted in self-defense.

Matthew Fischer was 16 years old when he fatally stabbed 17- year-old Lucas Cavanaugh on January 18, 2015. Police say it happened after the two boys exchanged threatening text messages.

The hearing started at 9:30 a.m. Fischer's attorney Andy Savage told Live 5 News he would ask the judge to dismiss the murder charge, citing the Stand Your Ground statute.

"Well it's sort of a self-defense on steroids if you will," Savage said Tuesday, referring to the South Carolina Protection of Persons and Property Act.

It allows some people to use deadly force if faced with an imminent threat of harm.

Prosecutors say Fischer stabbed Cavanaugh outside Fischer's girlfriend's house in Mount Pleasant after the two teens traded threatening text messages.

Savage claims Cavanaugh went to the house to start a fight with Fischer. He says Cavanaugh charged at Fischer, choked and beat him repeatedly until Fischer pulled out a knife in self-defense.

Savage says Fischer will testify at Wednesday's hearing. He's also expecting the lone witness, Fischer's girlfriend, to testify.

"In our case, Judge Dennis will hear the evidence, there will be no jury," Savage said.

Cavanaugh's family declined a request for an on-camera interview through a spokesperson who said right now it's too difficult for them to speak.

Cavanaugh's family issued a brief statement:

"Our family and friends have lived with the most unimaginable void and still struggle with the harsh reality of his unnecessary death. Tomorrow's hearing will open wounds that we are desperately trying to heal but we put our faith into the judicial system and trust that justice will prevail."

It will be up to a judge to decide if Fischer will stand trial for murder.

A request for a comment from Solicitor Scarlett Wilson on Wednesday's hearing was not immediately returned.

If Fischer goes to trial and is convicted, he faces a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

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