WILDERVILLE, Ore. — The Josephine County District Attorney's office has determined not to press charges against a man who fatally shot his son in September, after an investigation supported his claim of self-defense.
41-year-old Ivan Nutting Jr. died on September 3 at his parents' property in the 4000-block of Cheney Creek Road. At the time, Oregon State Police said that Nutting's father, Ivan Nutting Sr., wrestled a rifle away from his son before the deadly shooting.
According to the DA's office, witnesses told investigators that Nutting Jr. has a history of methamphetamine use, mental health issues, and "a history of violence toward family members." His father had taken out a restraining order against him in May of 2018, though that expired a year later.
The investigation found that Nutting Jr. was at the property on September 3 and was asked to leave after becoming "more hostile and aggressive," even threatening to kill his father. Nutting Jr.'s mother and 13-year-old daughter were inside the home during the argument.
"At one point, an altercation occurred between Sr. and Jr. wherein Jr. had grabbed a firearm, and Sr. struggled with Jr. to get the firearm away from Jr.," the DA's office said. "Sr. claims Jr. armed himself with sheers in each hand. Sr. fired multiple shots, killing Jr. in the kitchen area of the home."
Though investigators did find sheers near Jr.'s body in the kitchen of the home, "the location of the sheers and how it appeared Jr. was shot raised some questions," the DA's office said.
Nevertheless, other witnesses corroborated Nutting Sr.'s account of his son's hostile behavior and threats, the DA's office said. One witness reported having to kick down the door of the home to assist Sr. in getting his son out, out of concern for the other people inside. That witness described the two men struggling for control of the gun after Jr. armed himself.
"In a situation where self-defense is used, the reasonableness of the person’s use of self-defense must be disproven by the State beyond a reasonable doubt," the DA's office said. "Based on the totality of the circumstances that occurred on September 3, 2019 the State would be unable to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt."
Based on Nutting Jr.'s violent history and threats on the day of the shooting, the fact that he locked the door to the home and grabbed a gun, his "size and age" compared to his father, and his erratic behavior under the influence of drugs, the DA concluded that Nutting Sr. was reasonable in being in fear of his life.
"It should be noted that use of physical force and/or deadly physical force is analyzed on a case-by-case basis," the DA's office said. "In each case involving the use of self-defense, a fact specific inquiry into the reasonableness of the use of self-defense must be made to determine if such actions are justified under Oregon law."