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There is an interesting case playing out in deep Southern Illinois regarding Booby Traps

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by Jeff White, Sep 14, 2019.

  1. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Last year William Wasmund was fed up enough with continual break ins at a shed on property he owned rigged a shotgun to fire when the shed door was opened. Then he nailed the door shut and posted a No Trespassing sign and a sign on the shed saying Caution Do Not Enter.

    Sometime on or about September 16th, 2018 Jeff Spicer ignored the signage broke the lock on the door, opened the door despite it being nailed shut and was killed by a shotgun blast. His body was discovered by a neighbor on September 16th.

    Wasmund was charged with First Degree Murder and yesterday a jury convicted him.

    http://www.southernillinoisnow.com/...convicted-in-2018-booby-trap-shotgun-slaying/

    This seems like a pretty open and shut case. Plenty of precedent in other states about things like this. However Illinois law permits the use of force up to and including deadly force to protect property other then a residence:

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilc...&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=8300000&SeqEnd=9900000

    (720 ILCS 5/7-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 7-3)
    Sec. 7-3. Use of force in defense of other property.
    (a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with either real property (other than a dwelling) or personal property, lawfully in his possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his immediate family or household or of a person whose property he has a legal duty to protect. However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    (b) In no case shall any act involving the use of force justified under this Section give rise to any claim or liability brought by or on behalf of any person acting within the definition of "aggressor" set forth in Section 7-4 of this Article, or the estate, spouse, or other family member of such a person, against the person or estate of the person using such justified force, unless the use of force involves willful or wanton misconduct.
    (Source: P.A. 93-832, eff. 7-28-04.)


    Burglary is a forcible felony under Illinois law and is defined as follows:

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilc...hapterID=53&SeqStart=63000000&SeqEnd=63800000

    (720 ILCS 5/Art. 19 heading) ARTICLE 19. BURGLARY
    (720 ILCS 5/19-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 19-1)
    Sec. 19-1. Burglary.
    (a) A person commits burglary when without authority he or she knowingly enters or without authority remains within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit therein a felony or theft. This offense shall not include the offenses set out in Section 4-102 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.


    I am aware of cases where the property owner wasn't charged after shooting a burglar in a building that wasn't occupied and even one where the building wasn't owned by the person who shot the burglar but was owned by a relative.

    It's going to be interesting to see what grounds they appeal on and how the appellate court interprets the law.
     
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  2. dh1633pm

    dh1633pm Member

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    I guess I could be callous and say he got his just reward. But things are never as simple as they seem. A lot to sort out.
     
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  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    The justification argument is probably moot.

    I haven't researched IL law in depth, but it looks like booby traps are not legal. So there is no justification that would allow their use.

    TX is similar--there are specific laws against deadly force booby traps. So even if deadly force were obviously justified by the circumstances of the situation, it would still be illegal if done by a booby trap instead of by a person.
     
  4. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I bet he wishes he had chosen a security camera instead of a scattergun.
     
  5. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    There is long legal precedent against setting booby traps.
     
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  6. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    These days it would’ve been cheaper and easier up front, in addition to being cheaper and easier after the fact.
     
  7. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    Illinois statute notwithstanding....
    Save for a home in use as actual dwelling, lethal force in defense of property alone has long been held outside the protection of justifiable homicide. That the lethal force shown here was indiscriminate -- killing anyone/anything... young/old/felonious or innocent... is the prime factor.

    This is nothing new, and the jury finding hardly a surprise -- save (possibly) for the 1st degree aspect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
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  8. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Laws covering booby traps in Illinois all specifically refer to using them to protect illegal drug production and distribution. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072000050K19-5.htm
    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072006460K10.htm http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072006460K15.htm http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072006460K55.htm

    This case should have been a slam dunk. However it required the appointment of a special prosecutor and the defense took it to a jury trial. These cases don't usually play out like that. I would have expected a plea to a lessor charge then 1st degree murder. It's going to be interesting to see what grounds they appeal on.

    Illinois law is quite clear that lethal force in defense of property against a forcible felony is justifiable and I can name some recent local cases where no one was prosecuted because of that statute. The vague part is proving that the intruder intended to commit a forcible felony. There was a local case several years ago when I was still working (it wasn't my case) where a man saw light inside an empty home owned by a relative. The man armed himself and shot the intruder. The intruder wasn't killed and claimed he only entered the house to get out of the rain. The states attorney took the case to the grand jury and the grand jury refused to indict. Naturally you can't count on that kind of an outcome, but things like that make these cases interesting and they contribute to a lot of the "myths and truths" that float around the internet and in the bars and clubs and on the shooting ranges about self defense.
     
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  9. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    As before -- Illinois law notwithstanding . . . ;)
    I believe the word "indiscriminate" was (and should be) the tipping factor.

    Ere he shall lose an eye for such a trifle...
    For doing deeds of nature! I'm ashamed.
    The law is such an ass.

    .................... George Chapman,1654
     
  10. dh1633pm

    dh1633pm Member

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    People do booby traps all the time, but they aren't lethal. Like putting broken glass on the top of a fence or leaving exposed screws or nails in areas where a person might break in. When I was young my dad put his electric fence charger up to a piece of metal he used to plug a hole people were using to break into his barn. Again, nothing lethal.
     
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  11. toivo

    toivo Member

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    Bingo. It could just be kids up to mischief or an honest mistake, neither of which justifies lethal force. Without the presence of a human being exercising his/her discretion, it's reckless and, as above posters have noted, indiscriminate.
     
  12. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    I'm just some dufus on the interweb, but, the law includes the language "a person." Which we can probably assumes means a competent corporeal human entity.
    Which is everything a boobytrap is not. A trap device, I'm reasonably certain, is an inanimate, indiscriminate (non-competent) artifice, which could not be construed to have "rights."
     
  13. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

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    Do you honestly believe such acts to be lawful?

    Do you have any idea of the risk exposure to the actor?
     
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  14. 748

    748 Member

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    Wasting a burglar in such a manor generates too much paper work. I'm not saying they don't deserve it.
    Just too much paper work for my tastes.

    Better off putting up trail cameras, getting lots of clear pictures of the perp, if you know who they are and where they live all the better, get lots of pictures of the perp removing your property and give it all to the police.
    The police love slam dunk B&E cases.
     
  15. boom boom
    • Contributing Member

    boom boom Contributing Member

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    My property is not worth sitting in a prison cell. That is what insurance is for. I agree with 748 on the cameras.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  16. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    A good dog would do.
    Would sound the alarm and/or bite his butt
     
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  17. 748

    748 Member

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    I have great insurance my garage got broken into back in 2013 and usaa got me paid with in a few days of submitting the paper work.
     
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  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Mantraps (search on that term, lawyers don't call them booby traps except maybe to be conversational with a jury) are generally illegal.
    There was the guy who electrified the grille in a vent that had been used to enter his building. The next burglar fried, the owner went to prison.
     
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  19. George P

    George P Member

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    I wonder what might have happened had he rigged his gun to shoot at kneecap level?
     
  20. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart Member

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    Then the Poor dog would go to jail. Sorry, but could not resist. Spent 40 years in the Alarm industry. I have no use for Burglars. And many do not stop at just stealing. Known too many rapes, murders, wanton destruction. Break into a man's home, then suffer the consequences. I do have a full alarm, full perimeter, interior and CCTV along with fire protection. I also have seen too many dogs, killed, injured etc. from
    trash that break into homes.

    Yes, you have to protect your home and family. but you have to be smart doing so. And remember, that the LAW is NOT on your side. A prosecutor will go out of his way to put you away, and you will always be guilty until you can PROVE your innocence.
     
  21. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

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    Jail, for a long time.
     
  22. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Meanwhile, a electric fence charger and webcam would have cost less than the shotgun and been way more fun.

    We don't do lethal mantraps, and that's been established doctrine for centuries.
     
  23. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    I don't see where it is much different than barbed wire (the glass and screws.nails)??
    In the South a lot of people plant "Spanish bayonet" plants (Like yucca plants) underneath windows. The spikes on those are worse than 100 hypodermic needles.

    As to rigging a shotgun, that is just crazy! Up North I remember coming across cabins with warning signs (set Guns) not sure if they were really there but sure made you stay away!
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
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  24. George P

    George P Member

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    As are thorny berry bushes and citrus trees
     
  25. sota

    sota Member

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    what about a 2-way security camera next to the mounted scatter gun. If you shout at them through the camera "halt or I'll shoot!" does that count as being there?
     
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