(Boulder County Sheriff's Office)

On a cold night in October 2011, three homeless men got into a fight in an abandoned shed in the 3100 block of Pearl Street. Hours later, one man was in the hospital, one was dead and another was in jail facing murder charges.

Now, a Boulder County jury will be tasked with determining if Charles "Eddy" Waters was an assailant or a victim defending himself as he stands trial on second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault.

According to police reports, Waters called police at 1:20 a.m., Oct. 28, 2011, and told police he was sleeping in a shed when two other transients Johnny Rasnick, 43, and Michael Giampino, 29, attacked him.

(Boulder County Sheriff's Office)

Waters, 56, stabbed both men in what he claimed was self-defense. Both were transported to Boulder Community Hospital, where Rasnick died in surgery and Giampino was treated for his injuries.

Giampino has claimed that he was the one who was asleep when the attacks happened, according to the police report. Both men said none of the three knew each other before that night.

According to the report, dispatchers told responding officers they heard voices saying, "You just tried to kill me," and "I'm going to stomp your head into the concrete."

Dispatchers also reported hearing a man saying, "They made me so scared I had to do this," and, "Just please don't kill me," before the line went dead.

Waters -- who pleaded not guilty to all three charges in January -- has maintained that he was only acting in self-defense.

Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor, said prosecutors will have the task of proving Waters was not acting in self-defense.

"The burden is not to prove self-defense," Silverman said.

Colorado law states that, "A person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose."

Silverman said the pivotal word in the statute is "reasonable," and plays a key role in cases where a person killed another person then claimed self-defense.

"That's what you have a jury for," Silverman said. "They decide what is 'reasonable.'"

One advantage for the prosecution in this case is that they are pursuing second-degree murder charges as opposed to first-degree murder charges against Waters. Silverman said the significant difference is the prosecution does not need to prove deliberation before the fact in a second-degree murder case.

"It's a much more spur-of-the-moment action," Silverman said. "In fact murder in the second degree doesn't even require intending to cause the death, just knowingly causing it.

"They were aware of the fact that committing the act could accomplish murder. They don't have to have a conscious objective to kill victim, only that he had a knife and was putting into a person."

Waters remains in custody on $1 million bond.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.