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Azura Lakin: Make My Day law means no charges for killing Shaun Cassidy with bottle

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Update: Early this month, Azura Lakin, 21, killed her former boyfriend, Shaun Cassidy, 23, with a beer bottle. That fact was never in dispute. But the question of whether Lakin was acting in self-defense was, until a hearing yesterday, when officials decided against filing charges -- a determination that left Cassidy's family fuming.

As we reported, Cassidy, who's from Montrose, and Lakin got into an argument while out and about in Fort Collins, where she lives -- and things didn't calm down upon their arrival at her apartment, in the Gables at Silverplume complex on Swallow Road.

That's where Lakin slashed Cassidy across the throat with a broken beer bottle. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and subsequently died of what the coroner described as "extensive cerebral infarction" related to stabs and cuts to his neck, with "blunt-force injury" on the left side of his head an additional factor.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Lakin was arrested and jailed. But she was subsequently released from custody while authorities tried to figure out if her actions could be deemed justified under Colorado's Make My Day law, which allows individuals to defend themselves from attacks in their home.

In the end, as the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, Larimer County Deputy District Attorney Michael Pierson decided against filing charges against Lakin -- and the DA's office version of events explains why.

According to that account, Cassidy was "loud," "intoxicated" and "hostile" while in Lakin's company at an Old Town bar called the Drunken Monkey -- so much so that he heaved a beer bottle across the dance floor when he saw her dancing with someone else. He then smashed Lakin's cell phone, prompting her to borrow someone else's to call her sister, Anna Lakin, for a ride.

Back at their apartment, the Lakins reportedly tried to track down Cassidy; among the places they checked in with via phone was the jail. But shortly thereafter, a taxi dropped him off at the complex. At the apartment, he asked Azura to return his keys and stuff. Still upset about the cell phone breakage, she refused, allegedly prompting Cassidy to push her against the wall and choke her.

The women eventually succeeded at getting Cassidy back outside, the DA's office says, but only after he knocked Azura to the floor. However, he subsequently began banging on the door, prompting Azura to grab a beer bottle. She then opened the door to tell him to leave, but he forced his way inside and came at her -- so she hit him with the bottle, which broke against his head. When that didn't faze him, she jabbed at him with the bottle, causing the blood to flow even as he pushed Azura against a wall. At that point, Anna dialed 911.

These actions fit the statute, in the district attorney's opinion. But Cassidy's family isn't buying it. Colleen Countryman, his aunt, who traveled with other relatives from Montrose to attend the hearing, told CBS4, "She was mad over a broken cell phone. So my nephew is gone because of a cell phone that was broken. It's not right."

Look below to watch CBS4's report, followed by our previous coverage.

Original item, 10:29 a.m. October 11: Back on October 2, Azura Lakin, twenty, allegedly cut Montrose resident Shaun Cassidy (no, not that Shaun Cassidy) in the neck with a beer bottle. Cassidy has now died, but no charges have been filed against Lakin to date. Why not? Authorities are determining whether her actions qualifiy as self-defense.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that Cassidy and Lakin got into a spat while out on the town in Fort Collins back on October 2 -- and the argument continued after they went to her apartment, in the Gables at Silverplume complex on Swallow Road.

Amid these circumstances, Lakin allegedly slashed Cassidy across the throat with a broken beer bottle. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. After he died, an autopsy listed the cause as "extensive cerebral infarction" related to stabs and cuts to the neck. The coroner also listed a "blunt-force injury" on his head's left side.

As for Lakin, she was arrested and jailed after the incident, but released from custody last week. And representatives from various agencies tell the Coloradoan she hasn't been formally accused yet because the incident could fall under the state's Make My Day law, which allows an individual to defend himself or herself at home.

An example of this ruling came in the May 2010 shooting of Marcus Duran by Darrell Kutchin, whose homicide was ultimately found to be justified.

What happens next will determine if Lakin will be exonerated or on the hook in relation to Cassidy's death.

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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Robert Wallace shooting: Make My Day law meets Gran Torino."

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