How can they charge this man - MN has the Castle Doctrine?


January 17, 2013, 09:30 PM

So he shot what he thought was an intruder entering into his house. And MN has the Castle Doctrine. The granddaughter was supposed to be inside the home and had snuck out, so this gentleman had no reason to believe she was outside of the home.

How can they charge him, especially with MN having Castle Doctrine?

Minn. man charged for shooting granddaughter

7:59 PM, Jan 17, 2013

ROCHESTER, Minn. - A Rochester pastor is charged with a felony for shooting and wounding his granddaughter after mistaking her for an intruder last month.

Sixty-one-year-old Stanley Wilkinson is charged with intentional discharge of a firearm that endangered safety. A court appearance is scheduled Feb. 25.

Wilkinson told police he grabbed his pistol after hearing a noise outside his house Dec. 10 and fired two rounds after seeing what he thought was someone trying to open the deck door. It turned out to be his 16-year-old granddaughter, who was struck once in the neck.

The teen had been living with her grandparents. She told police she left the house without her grandparents knowing.

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Birch Knoll
January 17, 2013, 09:56 PM
Castle Doctrine laws aren't hunting licenses. Minnesota law says:

The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode.

Would a reasonable person have considered himself to be in danger of great boldily harm or death, or was a felony being commited in his home? If not, BZZZT -- you've used leathal force without justification. You win a trip downtown.

January 17, 2013, 10:20 PM
"and fired two rounds after seeing what he thought was someone trying to open the deck door."

Probably would have looked a little better if he'd let her open the door an inch or two before he shot her twice. I'm thinking that 'trying to open the deck door' might not be a shooting offense.


Frank Ettin
January 17, 2013, 10:21 PM
As we've noted before, a Castle Doctrine Law is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, nor a license to kill.

Every Castle Doctrine Law has conditions that need to be satisfied in order for one to come within its protection. Also the Castle Doctrine Laws, if you do come under their protections, generally only provide favorable evidentiary presumptions; and presumptions are rebuttable.

Not much information here, but it is conceivable that the DA concluded from the available evidence that he can establish that the Minnesota's Castle Doctrine isn't applicable. Ultimately the court may need to decide.

January 17, 2013, 10:37 PM
Sounds like negligence to not try to identify who it was since the child was still outside the house and no immediate threat to him.

This guy must walk around with his gun to be able to respond that quickly.

January 17, 2013, 10:38 PM
...and fired two rounds after seeing what he thought was someone trying to open the deck door

Since we weren't there we can only go by what the news reports say, but this doesn't sound like someone frantically trying to bash their way into the house.

So Castle Doctrine or no, how many of us believe that it would be appropriate to take a couple of shots from inside your house at "someone" outside your house that you "think" is "trying" to open your door? As in shooting at an unidentified target???

January 17, 2013, 10:52 PM
"and fired two rounds after seeing what he thought was someone trying to open the deck door."

Probably would have looked a little better if he'd let her open the door an inch or two before he shot her twice. I'm thinking that 'trying to open the deck door' might not be a shooting offense.


I'm not sure I want to let an intruder into my house, especially when I have the drop on them.

Jim K
January 17, 2013, 11:02 PM
I don't read that law as allowing someone to shoot at a noise without at least having reasonable cause to believe he was in personal danger. Also, the report doesn't give the time; I would presume it was night, but nothing says that for sure.


January 17, 2013, 11:12 PM
Breaking and entering usually constitutes a felony. That would meet the test of the law cited.

Based on the scant account from the article, it seems the D.A. does not believe that there is sufficient prima facia evidence that the shooter had cause to believe that B&E was in progress OR that fear was present. What we don't know is the content of the statement of the shooter to the police after the event. That may or may not have been the deciding factor.

January 17, 2013, 11:19 PM
"Be aware of your target and what's beyond it."

Shooting blind is stupid.

Shooting blind and hitting a person is criminal.

January 17, 2013, 11:28 PM
Castle Doctrine has a lot more legal pitfalls than most realize. You can't just open fire on someone and say "castle doctrine" to the responding officers and expect a polite wave and goodbye from them. I am guessing she was shot through the door. This is just another reason why one of the rules is "be sure of your target and what is beyond it." EDIT: Trent beat me to it :p

January 18, 2013, 03:44 AM
Castle Doctrine was veto'd by the govenor in Minnesota.

January 18, 2013, 05:15 AM
Castle Doctrine or not, a stern 'get the heck off my porch' usually gets it done.

January 18, 2013, 06:02 AM
.I'm not sure I want to let an intruder into my house, especially when I have the drop on them.

Fair enough. But perhaps the ability and effort to discern between an 'intruder' and one's own granddaughter would be prudent in an assessment of a reasonable fear that one is responding to a threat of lethal force against oneself , at least pursuant to Cooper's 4th Rule.

Typically, the sanctioned use of lethal force is judged in accordance with the standard of reasonable fear.

One may personally feel that one is unwilling to take any chances, but one will still be judged by others, not oneself, as to whether such a tactical stance is reasonable.

It's that whole 'judged by 12 vs. carried by 6' cliché, which never seems to include a probabilistic assessment that the odds of being 'carried by 6' are actually vanishingly slim, whereas the odds of being 'judged by 12' are at about 100%.

January 18, 2013, 07:01 AM
This sort of incident is a tragedy at both ends... all that was needed is a quick challenge before shooting. In most cases a real intruder will flee - if it's a family member they'll speak up. What your "intruder" does after being challenged will determine the outcome.

January 18, 2013, 09:12 AM
You need to identify your target before you fire your gun. You can't just shoot at shapes.

January 18, 2013, 10:25 AM
Like they say "You can't fix stupid". As has been pointed out he don't know every detail except what has been given us. From what we know, very very bad decision making in many aspects. 1) If you have children, especially teenagers in the house you have to know that every "bump" in the night could simply be them, not a BG. 2) This should give any resonable gun owner more reason to identify exactly who this person is. 3) She wasn't even in the house yet and he shot through a glass door! Negligence 101 right there. You have ample opportunity to identify the target through a glass door. Use your voice, yell out and tell the unidentified person to identify themselves quickly or face serious injury. I won't get into the whole "sweeping vs not sweeping the house" discussion. I don't have teenagers (yet) but I was once one not too long ago and a discussion about trying to sneak out and having guns in the house for intruders dont mix well sounds like a good convo to have. 4) Very strong and obvious case to be made that his life was not threatened in any way since he failed to identify the target and the "intruder" wasn't even in the house. Unfortunately to many mental errors for this to be justified. Thankfully they aren't having to deal with a funeral though.

boom boom
January 18, 2013, 03:39 PM
Actually, Minnesota does have a form of the Castle Doctrine, See State v. Glowacki, 630 NW 2d 392, 402 (Minn. 2001). You do not have to retreat from confrontation within the home but you must still act reasonably. Thus, the prosecutor concluded that the minister did not apply deadly force in a reasonable fashion. Failure to identify target, failure to ensure entry was in a tumultuous fashion (e.g. breaking in), failure to turn on exterior lights etc. Generally speaking, shooting through exterior doors is generally troublesome for the shooter. My guess is the shooter will plead to lesser charges or case will go to trial. Then a judge and jury will decide whether he acted reasonably to prevent a felony in the residence 10 MNPRAC CRIMJIG 7.05 (jury instructions)

Frank Ettin
January 18, 2013, 03:58 PM
Some posts have been edited/delete as off topic. Let's please stay with the subject of this thread.

January 18, 2013, 06:23 PM
On the news tonite, he is going to be charged with a felony, his trial is to be set.


January 18, 2013, 09:27 PM
One must base their reaction based on the totality of their circumstances and laws.

I generally live alone. Someone trying to enter at 0'dark30 is making a big mistake. HOWEVER

If I have house guest(s) I must make affirmative changes to my protocol to preserve THEIR safety as well as mine. Part of that is letting them know what to expect and what is expected of them.

In this tragedy, the pastor had his teenage grand daughter staying with him. I presume he did not take into account that she may sneak out or that she may have some teen age boy call on her at late night hours. Overall the shame is that he bears the burden of knowing that he almost killed his grand daughter and is now having to go through the meat grinder that is the criminal justice system.

Carl N. Brown
January 18, 2013, 09:47 PM
Castle Doctrine is basically no duty to retreat in your own home in the face of an attacker with ability, opportunity and means to put life or limb in jeopardy, in a situation where a reasonable person would be in fear of imminent death or greivous bodily harm.

There are multiple scenarios where someone trying at the door could be relative harmless or present a true danger. In this case, there was failure to account for the location of all persons in the household. I would hate to get shot for raiding the 'fridge.

January 18, 2013, 10:09 PM
The man is a minister, I believe he told police his fear took over him. His granddaughter had apparently left the house to talk to friends after she had already gone to bed. She saw the grandparents light on was trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake or disturb them. It seems they thought she was in bed . The granddaughter lived with them. As bad as I feel for this guy you have to know your target and whats beyond. He shot at a shadow outside the door.

January 19, 2013, 12:54 AM
As I understand it, he heard a noise, saw a shape outside his door and opened fire without warning, castle doctrine or not, he deserves to be prosecuted. It's not illegal to walk up to someone's door and make a noise, in fact the practice of "knocking" on doors to make noise is quite common in my area. People generally do it when they wish to attract the attention of someone with whom they wish to communicate that's located on the other side of the door.

In rural Texas it is considered impolite (as well as illegal) to shoot people for engaging in this activity.

This man is learning a hard lesson and may even spend a few years in prison, but it could have been much worse, can you imagine having to live with yourself after killing your own grandchild?

I couldn't find any recent information, but as of Dec.14th, her condition was improving.

"The pastor says he hopes his mistake can be used as a warning to others who might find themselves in a similar situation to act cautiously."

January 19, 2013, 08:20 PM
Unfortunate to say the least, but that was just plain poor judgement, and dangerous at that. That's no different than shooting at a sound during hunting season, and is inexcusable in my opinion. Castle doctrin or not, there is no get of jail free card for those who break common gun safety rules.


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