Guns & Ammo ex-editor relieved murder charge dropped

Former Guns & Ammo magazine editor Richard Venola wants to move on with his life now that a murder charge against him is being dismissed.

A former editor of Guns & Ammo magazine who said he was defending himself when he fatally shot a neighbor during an argument is relieved that a murder charge against him will be dismissed.

Richard Erick Venola, 54, was tried twice in Mohave County Superior Court in Kingman, Ariz., on a charge of second-degree murder in the shooting death of James Patrick O'Neill. Both trials ended with deadlocked juries that were split in favor of acquittal, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Mohave County prosecutors decided not to try Venola a third time and on Tuesday asked a judge to dismiss the murder charge.

Venola told the Review-Journal the decision reaffirms his faith in the American justice system.

"I'm just looking forward to being able to rebuild my life," Venola was quoted as saying.

Venola was tried for the May 2, 2011, shooting death of O'Neill, his 39-year-old neighbor. O'Neill, who was unarmed, was shot in the chest with a rifle.

At the trials, prosecutors contended Venola shot O'Neill during a drunken argument at the Golden Valley duplex where Venola lived. They contended that O'Neill was facing away from the house as if leaving when Venola shot him.

Venola contended he acted in self-defense. His attorney said Venola retrieved his rifle from his truck because he believed O'Neill was going to his own home to get a weapon he kept by the front door.

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Asked if his case could be seen as part of the broader national gun-control debate, Venola told the Review-Journal:

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

Guns & Ammo, the firearms magazine he once edited, last week ranked Arizona No.1 on a list of "Best States for Gun Owners in 2013." The states were measured on several criteria for gun rights and "friendliness" to gun owners.

Venola was named Guns & Ammo editor in 2007, according to the magazine's website. He was succeeded a few years ago by its current editor, Jim Bequette.

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