The Stephen Maddox Case: Escalation
Five Shots at Close Range
Lessons from the Stephen Maddox Case
PART 3: ESCALATION
In this installment of “The Four Elements of Self-Defense,” we’ll explore how “escalation” factored into Stephen Maddox’s legal defense.
Stephen Maddox, a founding member of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle club Kingz of the South, and Kelly Wilkerson, a former club member, had engaged in several heated arguments in the past. Their personal grievances came to a fatal conclusion on October 17, 2015.
Both men were separately attending the 10th anniversary of the Queens of Chrome Motorcycle Club at the Bill Ellis’ Convention Center in Wilson, N.C.. Wilkerson, six-foot-three and weighing almost 300 pounds, was much larger than Maddox. The initial contact occurred when Wilkerson walked up to Maddox outside the convention center bathroom, shoved him against a wall, then dropped him to the ground and mounted him.
Wilkerson began to choke him. Maddox blacked out several times while others tried to pull Wilkerson off of him. Maddox had a small box cutter on his keychain. He grabbed the cutter and cut Wilkerson’s face to get the big man off of him. Wilkerson, now bleeding, went for him a second time. The men scuffled again, but Maddox eventually got away. He headed to his motorcycle outside.
Up to this point, except for the box cutter, Maddox had been unarmed. Too shaken to ride away safely, he retrieved his .44 revolver. In some fatal shooting incidents, the shooter escalates an already life-threatening situation. Stephen Maddox tried to get away from Wilkerson, a man who had attacked and choked him inside the convention center. When Wilkerson, enraged after being cut, approached him outside, Maddox had already tried to distance himself from his attacker and deescalate the situation.
Exhausted from their first two fights, and unable to ride away on his motorcycle, Maddox now had a reasonable fear for his life.