SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – For the first time since October 2019, Laquinton Blackwell is no longer a defendant in a murder case. But don’t waste your time looking for the real killer. Blackwell, who was 31 at the time, shot and killed Antoine Johnson, 39, but the judge said it was justifiable self-defense.

Blackwell had just given Kendra Hines a ride to a home on Adkins Circle in Suffolk where she lived with her uncle, Maurice McClain. Blackwell and Hines had dated in the past. Johnson showed up looking for help with a flat tire. Johnson had dated Hines for several years.

Johnson saw Blackwell, and Blackwell’s attorney Mike Rosenberg said that’s when Johnson went berserk.

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“He takes Ms. Hines down the hallway into a room, and according to Ms. Hines, he choked her out. Mr. Blackwell said he heard a slap, Mr. McClain said he heard some noise. Then [Johnson] leaves the room and comes down the hallway and attacks Mr. McClain, and opens up the side of his head pretty well,” Rosenberg said in a Monday morning interview.

And then Johnson, continuing his rage, turned to Blackwell, punching him in the face. But Blackwell was armed with a 40-caliber Glock pistol.

“There was a struggle, and Mr. Blackwell shot him,” Rosenberg said, at least six times. He advised his client to go for a rare bench trial on the second-degree murder charge. There would be no jury.

Blackwell’s fate would be in the hands of Judge Lawson Wayne Farmer. Last week, Farmer acquitted Blackwell.

“Judge Farmer said once Mr. Johnson attacked these people in the house, and once Mr. Johnson punched Mr. Blackwell in the face, at that point Mr. Blackwell didn’t have to say, ‘Well, let me see if he’s armed or not.'”

Acquitted on the charges he faced, Blackwell is now trying to rebuild his life.

“This is a veteran, this is a man that goes to work every day, it’s just awful for him,” Rosenberg said, adding that he has already begun the process of getting Blackwell’s clearance restored as a welder at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.