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Ex-editor relieved Arizona murder charges dropped

KINGMAN, Ariz. — The former Guns & Ammo magazine editor who shot and killed his friend in Golden Valley says he’s relieved and gratified that the Mohave County attorney’s office has moved to dismiss a second-degree murder charge and not try him again.

Two previous trials for Richard Venola, 54, ended with deadlocked juries that were split in favor of acquittal.

Trial attorneys agreed that Venola killed James O’Neill, 39, during a drunken argument in May. Venola insisted he acted in self-defense when he shot O’Neill in the chest, stating that “removed the threat”.

“The evidence presently available for the state is apparently insufficient to overcome the statutory presumptions that strongly favor claims of self-defense and justification,” prosecutor Rod Albright stated in his dismissal motion. “Since the State has the additional burden to disprove claims of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no likelihood of a jury conviction without additional evidence.”

Venola said the process of the trials and Albright’s dismissal decision reaffirm his faith in the American justice system.

He said he deals with daily anguish associated with having taken a life, yet he’s mostly pleased that he gets to move on with his own.

“I’m just looking forward to being able to rebuild my life,” Venola said.

He said he’s trying to revive the journalism career that has been on hold during the criminal case.

Venola hesitated when asked if his case can be plugged into the national gun control debate.

“That’s a little over my head. I really don’t know how to answer that question,” Venola said. “People on both sides are going to infer what they want. All I know is that I’m alive.”

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