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Court docs: Theft of candy money jar led to Indianapolis homicide

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indianapolis man is behind bars in Marion County, accused of taking part in a deadly shooting on the city’s near northwest side.

Police believe the homicide Tuesday night on Winfield Avenue started with the theft of a jar of money.

The suspect is being held in jail on a preliminary charge of voluntary manslaughter, while court records detail the unusual dispute that led up to the shooting.

Just after sunset last Tuesday, police say Steven Archie called 911 on himself and told police he shot and killed a man. The victim was identified as 31-year-old Tony McClain Jr., who crashed his car and died from multiple gunshot wounds.

According to the affidavit, Archie had set up a table outside his home to sell candy and snacks. Archie claims McClain walked up, grabbed the tub of money and ran to his car. In response, Archie drew his gun and fired three to four times into the driver’s window.

Police claim Archie also admitted to firing several more shots that night as the would-be thief drove away down the street. Asked why he pulled the trigger, Archie allegedly responded, "Because he stole my money.”

"Most people think you can always shoot somebody in defending yourself. That’s not always the case," said attorney Jeff Mendes.

Mendes isn’t connected to the case, but says people often misunderstand when it’s legal to use deadly force.

"You always have a right to defend yourself with deadly force in your home, however once that person steps outside your property you cannot just shoot and kill that person even though you were just robbed by that person," said Mendes.

Mendes says under Indiana law, a person must be in reasonable fear for their life or the safety of others or trying to stop a forcible felony, in order to be justified using deadly force.

People can lose protection under law, if they use deadly force against someone trying to run or drive away.

"What the court will look at is the reasonable person standard. Would a reasonable person in the same situation act the way this individual acted?" said Mendes.

Archie is due in court on Tuesday. He’s being held on a $20,000 bond, but prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges in the case.

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