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Homeowner chases down two would-be robbers, killing one

Discussion in 'Legal' started by MechAg94, Jun 27, 2005.

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  1. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/news/062705_local_doubleshoot.html

    The article is not entirely clear on what was going on at the guys house. There are definitely some things left unsaid. It was night and they were trespassing, so who knows. :)
     
  2. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    It happened at a home on Texarcana and Lathrop in northeast Houston. Sergio Lerma and his family are thankful they're still alive. Around 1am, Lerma returned home with his brother and a friend to find four men in his front yard.

    "I guess they panicked," he said. "One of them ran this way. He got stuck right there. We caught him. The other ones ran to the back. I grabbed my gun and shot him."

    Three of the suspects ran through his back yard as Lerma retrieved a nine millimeter pistol from inside his home. He emptied his clip of 16 rounds, hitting two of the burglars. One of them died.

    "It's either them or me or my family and I don't know if they had guns or not," said Lerma.

    Sergio and his friend hopped in their truck and found the suspect several blocks away. He was able to scrawl their license plate number on his hand and police later discovered the dead burglar nearby.

    "I feel kind of bad, but then again, it's either him or me," he said.

    Lerma says there have been at least a half dozen similar incidents at his home in just over the last year. Police haven't said if there will be any charges, but the investigation is continuing. One suspect remains in the hospital with an injured shoulder. Two others remain on the loose.
    (Copyright © 2005, KTRK-TV)


    So, people standing in your front yard, no immediate threat, does not even know if the persons are armed, had time to run into his house and grab a gun, exit, chase down and shoot?? :what:
     
  3. GT

    GT Member

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    Well, if he is right and there have been half a dozen incidents I guess they won't be screwing with him any more.
    Obviously the police don't give a rat's otherwise they might try some policing in the neighborhood.
    From my point of view seems like they had it coming.

    The DA and the Po-lice might not see it that way since our plucky homeowner embarrassed them, especially since he caught 3 guys, killing one and wounding another with one mag. The cops seem to be unable to hit anything when they get in a shootout.

    G
     
  4. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Yeah, pretty easy isn't it to shoot at two people standing in the back yard who aren't shooting back at you :banghead:
     
  5. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    Hey, maybe Houston PD should hire another 100,000 officers, right?
     
  6. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    Steve, you don't know what they were doing in his front yard. Could have been causing trouble, could have been planning to break in, you don't know from the article. The laws in Texas are very liberal at night on your own property. Even something as seemingly small as criminal mischief gives you the right to use deadly force against people at night if you feel the need. I'm not saying I advocate emptying a magazine on someone TP-ing your trees but that doesn't mean it isn't legal in Texas.

    Trespass at your own risk at night. Also, in case you didn't know, the area that the shooting happened is 5th ward. It is not exactly the nicest area in Houston and is home to Denver Harbor.
     
  7. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    Texas is one of the few states (maybe the only state?) that specifically allows, by law, the use of deadly force to protect PROPERTY -- if the incident takes place at night. To the rest of us this automatically sounds like a bad shoot, but under Texas law I think more information is necessary before reaching any conclusions.
     
  8. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Sorry, just because some is on your property is not reason to open fire. What if they were kids running through yards? Oh heck they were on my property so I'm going to shoot them.

    They took off......he had time to go get a gun, chase after them and shoot them. By his own admission he didn't even know if they had weapons.

    So for all he knew they could have been people lost or broken down looking for help/directions.

    Sorry, but the information published in that article comes no where near the criteria for the use of deadly force.

    Criminal mischief = deadly force??? :what: :what: Please direct me to the law that says this is justified???
     
  9. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    What property was he protecting? Had they broken into the house, no. Had they made any attempt, no. Did they even have any tools or other items used to break into houses, no.

    So, in Texas someone better not walk up to another house at night because the homeowner will unload on your @$$????
     
  10. Jeeper

    Jeeper Member

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    Here is the section that says you can use deadly force to protect property

    § 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is
    justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or
    tangible, movable property:
    (1) if he would be justified in using force against the
    other under Section 9.41; and
    (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the
    deadly force is immediately necessary:
    (A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of
    arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the
    nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime;
    or
    (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing
    immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated
    robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the
    property; and
    (3) he reasonably believes that:
    (A) the land or property cannot be protected or
    recovered by any other means; or
    (B) the use of force other than deadly force to
    protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or
    another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

    Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974.
    Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1,
    1994.
     
  11. Jeeper

    Jeeper Member

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    I dont agree with doing what the guy did in most situations, but unless you have been to the 5th ward or Watts or something equivilant then it is hard to realize the amount of crime and type of criminals there. A bunch of people in your yard late at night there is definately criminal mischief.
     
  12. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    What does 9.41 say, since in the section that is posted;

    (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

    the "and" is very important since it means some other criteria must be in place before you can use deadly force for the protection of personal property.

    Also find the definition they use for "imminent commission". Standing in a yard isn't imminent commission. Seeing them trying to force a window or door is.
     
  13. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    It's impossible to reach any sort of conclusion based on the sketchy "facts" presented in the purported "article." There's just nothing there.
     
  14. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    All they have to be doing is trespassing and up to no good in Texas. Reading the article, it doesn't really say where he chased the people down. Did he chase them into an adjacent lot? Was it still on his property? You don't really know because the article isn't very clear when the shooting occured and when the chasing occured. For all he knew, they had guns, had robbed his house, and were going to kill him. 5th ward isn't the type of place where people come hang out in your front yard for the hell of it.

    Your home really is your castle in Texas, especially at night. Remember Steve, just because he doesn't go to jail for the shooting doesn't mean he can't be taken to the cleaners in a civil court.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2005
  15. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    So, in Texas (as in most states) you can use force against trespass (9.41) and deadly force (9.42) when it is immediately necessary .......to prevent x, y,and z.

    However, in the case given, deadly force was not immediately necessary since the persons had fled. He didn't have to go inside his house, get a gun, come out, go after and shoot them. Where was it necessary to do this?

    They weren't fleeing after burglarizing his house. They weren't in the process of breaking into his house. All he knows is that 4 people are standing in his yard and run when he and his friends come home.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2005
  16. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    In addition to being able to stop the trespassing, remember there were people in his backyard, he can also use deadly force to stop an escape if he believes that they have stolen property and he has no other way to recover it. I can quote you more laws from Texas, but why don't you go read them yourself (Chapter 9).

    http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/petoc.html

    Wrong, all he knows is that 4 people were trespassing and fled without warning. They could have robbed his house and were dividing the loot. Maybe it was too dark but there was a lot of hand movement. You don't know exactly what happened from the article and his testimony will be key in determining if what he did was legal or not.

    If you are standing around somewhere you aren't supposed to be, say a bank ATM, a cop comes walking up, and you just break out running, do you think he will chase you? Would you be mad if he drew his weapon and forced you to surrender? Maybe you put your hand in your pocket and he thinks you have a gun, now he can shoot you? Maybe our homeowner was persuing them to perform a citizen's arrest, they made a movement that looked like drawing a weapon, and he opened fire.

    I'm not saying he was justified in the use deadly force but in Texas under the circumstances and according to his testimony, what he did could be found completely legal. It is hard to believe that for you Yankees ( :neener: ) but that is simply a possibility based on Texas' laws. The article does not give enough information to determine exactly what happened.
     
  17. davec

    davec Member

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    Vigilantism is not the safe as self defense.

    What gave that guy the right to become summary judge, jury, and executioner of individuals who didn't pose any threat to his life or the life of his family?

    Bad neighborhood or not, 'letter of the law' legal or not, he had no moral authority to gun down fleeing individuals.

    This is what antis talk about when they mention "blood in the streets".

    This is what makes getting Florida's presumption laws enacted so difficult.

    The right to be secure in your person does not give you the right to deprive others of their LIFE failing a reasonable threat to your own physical well being.
     
  18. EchoSixMike

    EchoSixMike Member

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    What I can't understand is why so many people are so vigourously defending criminal acts? Were they tresspassing? Yes, obviously, that fact is not in doubt. Texans seem to think that this justifies deadly force if the homeowner feels neccesary. Good on them. Don't like it, don't move to Texas. I don't live there, and I'm not going to tell them how they should do business. Wish others would do the same with me and my business. S/F...Ken M
     
  19. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Ok, I'll continue to play along.

    So your saying it was ok for him to shoot someone because he thinks they may have stolen something? He has no knowledge or proof to this, only that he thinks they may have done something.

    They weren't carrying his tv set, he doesn't even know if they were inside the house, all he knows is that 4 people were in his yard and ran. You have not shown any law that says it was ok to shoot just because the people ran. Remember, according to Texas law the use of deadly force, must be immediately necessary to protect property. How can he say it was immediately necessary when they ran? And instead of holding them at gun point, he just shot them??

    In your little scenario, sure the LEO will probably run after the guy. But, I can promise you that he won't be shooting at him just because he's running. He won't be shooting at him even if he just saw him break into the ATM and is running. Read up on Tenn v Garner if you doubt me.

    Hands in the pocket, refuse to show hands, furitive movements?? Thats a different story. If those people in the yard did that then there would be some type of justification. However, going on the article (which we all should agree to doesn't provide enough info) he ran after them and shot them. What right did he have to shoot them, because he "thought" they "may" have done something?
     
  20. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    Its not that anyone is defending criminal acts, its human life, especially when there is no threat to anyone, other than them being on your property.

    And Texas does not permit you to use deadly force just because someone is trespassing. Read the law. It says use of force can be used against trespass. Use of force does not immediately equate to deadly force.
     
  21. Byron Quick

    Byron Quick Moderator In Memoriam

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    Bull. A friend of mine was robbed at his gas station by three guys. He's little so they thought that they could manhandle him. One grabbed him in a bear hug and his response was to say to his wife,"Baby, hand me my revolveer." She did so. The guy that had him in a bear hug decided that it was time to haul posterior. So did his two buddies. They all went in separate directions. My friend ran up behind one and, while firing a round into the ground, told the fleeing robber,"Stop or I'll shoot you in the back." Robber stopped, turned, and lunged for the gun while yelling,"I'll make you eat this gun" My friend replied,"Eat this." and fired. The bullet went through the guy's chest and penetrated his heart, liver, and both lungs. My friend was not arrested, was not indicted and was not tried. Dead robber's family went around to all the local attorneys to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The attorneys said sure, we'll do it for you. That'll be X thousand dollars for the fee...up front and in cash. I've got a clue for your kids...stay off of my property.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2005
  22. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it's probably a duck.

    Meaning if you're 4 guys hanging around in the wee hours of the night in a guy's yard in a very bad neighborhood you probably aren't considerin' throwin the guy a party. GET IT?

    Texas - being enlightened gives the home owner the benefit of the doubt.

    Moral of the story: If yur in Texas and ya don't wanna get shot don't hang around in peoples yards in the wee hours of the night because Texas does allow property owners to be judge, jury and executioner in that case - AND - rightly so.

    Personaly I applaud the guy who did the shooting. We need more like him and more states with laws like Texas.

    We sure as heck don't need more laws like in NJ, CA, NY or MA where the BG's are coddled.
     
  23. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA Member

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    What does being robbed/mugged at a gas station have to do with being on private property?

    So your friend was going to shoot the guy in the back....while he was running away?????? :what: I would have loved to seen him try and explain that one!

    Because the guy lunged for the gun your friend was justified.....right then. Not because he was amost robbed, not because the guy was running away, but because the guy lunged at him. Whole different ball game there my friend.

    You may think Texas allows a person to be judge, jury and executioner, but it does not. I'll say it again, I have yet to see where in Texas law, the shooter was justified in what he did.
     
  24. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    Steve --

    I don't have a copy of the entire Texas statutes available so I don't know if this section of their laws defines the word "imminent." I am going to guess that, since it's a word that has fairly consistent meaning, it probably isn't defined in statute. And the usual rule of law for words not defined in statute is to define them according to prevailing usage ... in other words, look in the dictionary.

    My Websters defines "imminent" as "adj.ready to take place; esp.:hanging threateningly over one's head."

    Under that definition, seeing them trying to force a window or door is not "imminent." Imminent is when they are getting ready to break in, not when they are in the act of breaking in. In that neighborhood, a bunch of strange males hanging around someone's yard in the middle of the night likely would be deemed "imminent commission."
     
  25. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    Read the penal code, you will indeed discover that deadly force is justified. I sent you a link, use it. Also, look up in the thread, 9.42 specifically states that that deadly force is justified under certain circumstances.

    Once again, you don't know enough about the situation to say for sure why he shot them so just give it a break until more facts come out. He could easily be justified under 2B and 3A. We will not know if her was justified until the facts come out.

    Just accept that Texas law does indeed allow a person to defend their property with deadly force if they believe it necessary and it falls under what is justified in the texas PC. You don't have to like it but it is the way it goes in Texas. It isn't that hard to grasp and it is pretty easy to understand from the laws cited here.

    Edit: Hell if that bothers you, check out 9.43! You can use deadly force to protect someone else's property under certain circumstances! I love Texas.

     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2005
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