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Applebees stabber found not guilty
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The man who slashed another man in front of a restaurant full of witnesses at Applebee’s last year has been acquitted on all charges after jurors believed his claim of self-defense.“I was scared and trying to protect myself,” defendant Jeffery Earl Morton, 52, told the jury from the witness stand Wednesday, noting he was worried he could be seriously injured by Charles Cole, 28, and members of his group. “I saw three big guys coming my way.”Morton said he had suffered facial injuries on the job that required plastic surgery to his face and was afraid being hit could severely injure or kill him.“He swung at me,” Morton testified, referring to the confrontation, adding he was at Applebee’s to watch a football game and was getting ready to leave. “There’s no such thing as a safe place anymore.”It took jurors 55 minutes to return with not-guilty verdicts on all counts of aggravated assault and assault for Morton’s stabbing of Cole during their confrontation at Applebee’s last November.“It shows people can defend themselves,” said defense attorney Bud Sharp.Proof was mixed as most witnesses told significantly different stories about what they saw, with some saying Morton was the aggressor, while others said Cole and his brother, Matthew Cole, were the aggressors.The victim said he was anything but aggressive and instead had come down to see what was going on between his brother and Morton since his brother appeared to be uncharacteristically agitated.“The first thing I remember was I was tasting my own blood,” the victim said, noting he had just approached when Morton slashed his face and arm, the arm injury requiring 18 staples to close at Erlanger.