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Two killings test right of self-defense (MD)

Discussion in 'Legal' started by LaEscopeta, Apr 8, 2006.

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  1. LaEscopeta

    LaEscopeta Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Los Estados Unidos
    (Note one of the cases below was discussed in this thread http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=189636&highlight=Cross+Keys


    Two killings test right of self-defense
    Each case may turn on whether life was in danger
    By Jennifer McMenamin
    sun reporter
    Originally published April 8, 2006

    Karen L. Foxx had sought court orders to keep her estranged husband away, had filed criminal assault charges against him and changed her phone number. She also bought a gun to protect herself, and last Saturday, her lawyer says, Foxx did just that when she fatally shot her husband.

    Now the Randallstown woman awaits word on whether she will be charged with a crime - one of two recent cases in which the legal right to self-defense is under examination.

    The Randallstown shooting occurred two weeks after a 57-year-old gas station owner was attacked by three would-be robbers at the upscale Village of Cross Keys shopping center in North Baltimore, grabbed his own gun and fatally shot one of the assailants.

    In such cases, the decision to file charges often hangs on whether prosecutors or grand jurors determine that the shooters reasonably believed that their lives were threatened before pulling the trigger, legal experts interviewed this week said.

    In a 2001 case involving two brothers who killed a man after lying in wait for burglars, a Baltimore County grand jury decided the shooting was justified, even though the intruders were unarmed.

    In a 2003 case, two businessmen were acquitted of murder charges after shooting a man who broke into their East Baltimore warehouse.

    Given the police accounts of the two recent shootings, the experts interviewed say it's unlikely that either Foxx or the gas station owner, Mark A. Beckwith, will be charged.

    "I don't think a crime has occurred. I don't think it's even close," said Richard M. Karceski, a criminal defense attorney who represented one of two brothers cleared in the 2001 shooting of three unarmed intruders at the brothers' concrete plant in Glyndon. "Just because an unfortunate situation occurs and someone loses their life does not mean a crime has been committed."

    Prosecutors in both cases say no decision has been made. A homicide can lead to a first-degree murder charge, to such lesser charges as second-degree murder or manslaughter, or to no charge.

    S. Ann Brobst, an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore County, said it could be "a while" before all the necessary witnesses are interviewed and documents are gathered to be presented to a grand jury.

    Baltimore police have said that Beckwith had a permit for his gun and would probably not face criminal charges. Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office, said that prosecutors have not decided whether to charge Beckwith, present the case to a grand jury or rule the shooting a justified use of deadly force.

    Both jurisdictions have seen high-profile cases in recent years of people claiming self-defense after the use of deadly force.

    In April 2001, a Baltimore County grand jury declined to indict Dominic "Tony" Geckle and Matthew Geckle, brothers in the shooting of three unarmed intruders at the Geckles' concrete plant.

    The brothers had armed themselves with shotguns and were spending the night in their warehouse after break-ins the two previous nights. One intruder was killed and two others were shot in the back.

    Two years later, in January 2003, a Baltimore judge acquitted Harford County businessmen Kenny Der and Darrell R. Kifer of charges in the shooting of a drug addict who broke into their warehouse - and who, according to the defense, brandished a hammer and threatened to kill the men.

    Under Maryland law, a person may use deadly force to defend himself if he believes his life is in imminent danger, if that belief is reasonable and if he uses no more force than is "reasonably necessary." Legal experts said those issues will be at play in the cases of Foxx and Beckwith.

    Baltimore County police said that Foxx, 35, called 911 last Saturday afternoon to report that she had just shot her estranged husband, 45-year-old Herman E. Bullock, in her Randallstown home - a two-story, end-of-row condominium to which officers had been dispatched numerous times on domestic calls.

    Foxx, an office secretary, told officers that her husband threatened her with an ax handle, police spokesman Bill Toohey said.

    Foxx shot him in the torso with a handgun, Toohey said. He said police did not know how many bullets struck Bullock.

    Foxx successfully sought a court order in November to keep Bullock from contacting her or coming to the house they had shared until June 2005. In requests for protective orders, she wrote that Bullock had threatened to kill her, slapped her, dragged her down the stairs, threatened her with an ax handle and kicked, punched, pushed and choked her.
    Foxx also wrote that Bullock had killed their Chihuahua by throwing the dog out the door, breaking its neck.

    She filed criminal charges against Bullock in April 2003, telling police that he had scratched her, torn her shirt and punched her during an argument over her late work hours, court records show. Bullock was acquitted of second-degree assault in 2004.

    Bullock's first wife also accused him of abusing her, filing for a protective order in October 1998 and for divorce six months later, pointing to "cruelty and excessively vicious conduct." During the ensuing custody battle, Bullock's first wife alleged that he had abused her in front of their children, dragged her down the stairs by her hair and abused their dog.

    Attempts to reach Foxx this week were unsuccessful.

    "This man had absolutely terrorized her for a very long time," her lawyer, Margaret Mead, said. "She had done absolutely everything she could. ... He threatened her life, and she defended herself."

    Legal experts and advocates for victims of domestic violence said that her case will likely revolve around Bullock's alleged history of domestic violence and such questions as whether Bullock had already hit Foxx before she shot him, where he was in relation to her, as well as how many times - and where on his body - she shot him.

    Joseph Murtha, a criminal defense attorney who represented one of two Harford County businessmen acquitted in 2003 of the warehouse shooting, said that grand jurors will also likely consider whether Bullock's fingerprints were on the ax handle and will weigh whether Bullock startled his wife, where her gun was in her house and whether she had to run to get it or could have called police for help.

    "If what it appears to be was true, the question is how would she have been able to stop him. And if she is not physically able to stop him any other way, she's entitled to use the force necessary to protect herself," said Dominick A. Garcia, a criminal and civil defense attorney.

    Beckwith, who lives in Bel Air and owns two Baltimore gas stations, pulled into the parking lot at Cross Keys the afternoon of March 17 to deposit several thousand dollars at his bank, defense attorney David E. Carey said. He apparently had been followed by three people intending to rob him, the lawyer said.

    "He got out of the car, stood up and, as is his practice when carrying a large amount of money, looked around," Carey said. Beckwith saw two assailants coming at him and tried to get back into his car, Carey said. The three men - one of whom had a gun, Beckwith told police - beat him and grabbed paper bags filled with money before Beckwith pulled a 9 mm Glock semiautomatic pistol from a shoulder holster, Carey said.

    Beckwith fired 16 shots at his assailants, police said, killing one man and wounding another.

    Legal experts said Beckwith's case will likely depend on the statements of witnesses at the shopping center.

    "If this guy gets indicted on this case on those facts, there ain't no cows in Texas," Karceski said. "This is a case of perfect self-defense. If it were a slot machine, he'd have three cherries on this one because everything lines up."

    Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said state laws should be recast to grant crime victims the unquestionable right to protect themselves with force.

    "When a crime occurs, it's between the victim and the criminal," he said. "Law enforcement cannot get there in time, very often. The politicians aren't there and the gun control lobby certainly isn't there. What victims of crime need is options - and they need the law on their side."
  2. Mortech

    Mortech Member

    Jun 24, 2004
    Shelton WA
    Damn shame when you have to put in writing that a person has the right to defend themselves in order to protect the victim from the leagal system .
  3. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    North Central Florida and Miami Florida
    A little misleading?

    The thread title does not seem to jive with the body of the story. I don't see any 'test' here at all. The article states that it is unlikely that any charges would be brought against the two persons.
    Most States have a grand jury or a magistrate look at any killing, to determine that it was a 'good shoot' or not. I don't see that process as a test of the right to defend one's self.
  4. mrmeval

    mrmeval Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Greenwood, Indiana
    You can tell the author of that or whomever influenced them hates the idea that Foxx didn't bend over and take it. They dredge up other instances where someone defended their property and were persecuted as if to push the shooting into the same category as that one.

    The press hate the CCW laws, they love victim stories not victor stories.
  5. Maxwell

    Maxwell Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    As I read that I kept wondering what the author would have preferred.

    Did the violent man have a right to assault someone?
    Did the robbers have a right to break in and steal things?
    Does an assailant have a right to beat you up and take your stuff?

    I understand what their trying to imply, that the use of lethal force was probly extreme and (had an officer in riot gear been there) could have been avoided.

    But lets be honest... these people dont use guns because they wanted to kill, they used guns because they suck at grappeling with armed thugs. :banghead:
  6. Beachmaster

    Beachmaster Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    I was born and raised in MD, and lived there until 3 years ago. The media in town is decidedly ANTI GUN! Baltimore has a lot of murders (about 1 per day) multiple reported shootings per day, and untold more drug, gang, and criminal shootings that go unreported.

    Instead of placing the blame for the violence where it should be (the lack of jobs, drugs, culture, gangs, etc) the media and anti gunners blame the gun itself. It does not matter that most of the weapons used in crimes were not bought legally, or that most of the people using the illegal weapons have criminal histories (that would bar them from purchasing any gun legally), its the Guns fault!

    The reason I moved away was the large increase in the crime and grime of the area, and the anti gun, anti defense posture that the inept ellected officials and media spout as the answer to MD problems! Its not the Crack Cocain, abject poverty, gangs, lack of jobs, or even the culture's fault that many areas are crime ridden grafitti covered hell holes, so lets blame the gun itself for all of the problems!

    By disarming its citizens through bogus laws (like assault weapons bans, and handgun bans), denying its citizens the right to carry a concealed weapons, denying its citizens to even carry a weapon openly, and even banning some non lethal defensive items like pepper sprays, the place is going down the tubes fast!

    The last straw for me was about 4 years ago. A poor working family was living in a house on the end of a block. Drug dealers moved into their neighborhood and set up shop infront of their house. The family called the police on the dealers and testified at their trial. The night after the trial, their house was firebombed, and the entire family was killed.

    ATTENTION MARYLAND POLITICIANS! Guns are not the problem, its the criminals you allow to run around in society that are the problem. Maybe if the criminals started attacking your gated communities with firebombs instead of honest poor people you would get the message!

    Open your eyes Maryland Politicians. New York has had a handgun ban in effect since 1911. They have added 68 more laws to that ban since then. Has that stopped crime in New York?

    "How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual... as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of."
    Texas State Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp
  7. antsi

    antsi Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Instead of placing the blame for the violence where it should be (the lack of jobs, drugs, culture, gangs, etc)

    Or possibly, just maybe, under some circumstances, in some cases, placing the blame ON THE PERSON WHO COMMITS THE FREAKING CRIME!
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