Thursday, April 30, 2009

No-Retreat Law : Who is the victim here?

Yup I was browsing my CNN again. I tend to check it every day. Today this story jumped out at me. Law protects SUV owner who shot, killed woman. It got me thinking, which is usually the goal of my news wandering. I think the SUV owner had the right to protect himself and his family. I have seen cases where a cop will shoot if a vehicle is coming at him. Pretty justifiable in my book but then some think I am a nut so who knows.

My issue comes at charging the boyfriend with murder. Was he stupid to be stealing a car? Heck yeah. She made the choice to get into the stolen car with him though. I hate the loss of any life, but when that life is lost while committing a crime it makes it difficult to truly mourn. You mourn the person but you do not mourn the circumstances if that makes sense. I think her boyfriend never even dreamed she would lose her life. If he had known it was happening he would most likely have not stolen the car. Should he be charged with murder then? No, not in my book. She was a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong man. It does not bring justice to punish him for something he had no intention of happening. I could see a negligent homicide charge or manslaughter, but not murder.

In my eyes this woman was both victim and offender just as the SUV owner was both. It goes to show that there are many more shades of gray to humanity than we admit too.


  1. I'm in total agreement here! Wish more states would adopt this "No Retreat Law". It would do wonders for major cities in Michigan where violent crime is the norm.

  2. Just because someone didn't think a death would be a result of their actions doesn't alleviate them of the responsibility.

    If your actions cause someone else to get hurt then you are responsible for their injuries regardless if you intended it or not.

    If everyone knew the consequences of their actions then nobody would do anything wrong. But people don't think there will be consequences and usually they get away with it. Don't feel bad for this criminal because he had to pay the consequence of his actions.

  3. I am not sure of the thinking here on the part of the prosecutor.

    I believe such laws were written with armed robbery in mind - if you bring a gun, use it to commit a criminal act, you are held responsible for any resulting injury or death, even if you didn't shoot the injured or dead. Often this results in a bandit being charged with murder - killing someone in the midst of committing a crime - when a partner is killed by the police.

    As you point out, the SUV is a lethal weapon. In this case, I suspect showing the boyfriend: 1) stole the vehicle; and 2) the girlfriend was killed - will be sufficient to find the dude guilty.

    When you run down the chain of events, the first time to avoid this death - would have been to not steal the SUV.

    I also regret the untimely death of anyone, and yet acknowledge the responsibility some have for placing their lives at unneeded risk.

  4. I know the boyfriend does face some responsibility and while Ryan the 2L probably could give more info, I believe murder can only be proven if there was intent or he used the weapon that killed her. I could be wrong though because obviously I am not a lawyer. That's why I say negligent homicide or manslaughter would be more appropriate.

  5. Ended up here randomly, but I don't think that there has to be proof that a "deadly weapon" was used in this case. All they have to prove is that while the defendant was committing a felony, someone was killed. That is sufficient for murder charges. Like, if for example they were to have gotten away with the SUV, but crashed, ending in the same result of the female participant dying, then he would still be charged with murder.

  6. There's only two problems with this... the SUV owner's rounds missed one of the criminals... and now his vehicle is jacked up. I hope the car thief gets the maximum penalty for murder. This is exactly how the law should work.

  7. I didn't read the story, but based off of what people have said, I have some thought about what is going on.

    This sounds like Felony Murder. Felony Murder makes someone responsible for any death which results from the commission of a felony. For example, you and your partner are selling large amounts of drugs (enough to be a felony), and a cop shoots your partner, who dies. You can be charged with murder because someone died as a result of you committing a felony.

    The strongest attack, in my opion, is that this law is outdated. Under the Common Law, you would be put to death for committing any felony. Felony Murder laws didn't actually do anything. If you were guilty of the underlying felony, they were going to kill you anyway, and if you were not guilty, res judicata blocked a felony murder conviction. Now that felonies are much more common, felony murder is much more used.

    Note, all these are through statute. Some states have done away with felony murder, while others have expanded it to misdemeanors, although its normally a heightened manslaughter. Again, I didn't do any research, I am just basing this what I can gleam from the the post and comments.


  8. Tough poop for the woman and her "boyfriend". Our legal system has become so mired in technicalities that it's almost impossible to protect yourself or your property without endangering your own life and liberty by taking on the legal system.

    They took the risk, they pay the price for their illegal actions.

    It's totally un-American to have a system where the bad guys win because someone with a law degree can manipulate the law to allow criminals to get off while honest citizens suffer.

    Like yousaid, it's a shame when anyone dies, but still, good riddance to bad garbage.

  9. should have called 911 instead of grabbing a gun and going out ... this is what he would have done if this law was not there

  10. "should have called 911 instead of grabbing a gun and going out ... this is what he would have done if this law was not there"

    Sounds like someone who wants to get away with a crime to me.
    The fact that its a murder 2 charge means that the circumstances are being taken into consideration. I wouldnt be surprised to hear that the defendant pleads out to a lessar charge in the end. Like murder 3 maybe. But, Im not a lawyer so....

  11. "Sounds like someone who wants to get away with a crime to me."

    Read the story first. The one who killed isnt charged.

  12. Georgia law protects a person who defends himself, others, or his property from theft or damage. I understand your point of view, but I have zero sympathy for an individual who gets shot in the commission of a crime. I think, too, that she was involved of her own volition, and it's difficult to blame someone else for her presence there. But I hardly think you are "nuts."

  13. Hearing stories like this make me ever more disgusted with the laws in New Jersey. This state is unbelievably biased towards gun owners and then wonders why Camden is in the top five most dangerous cities in America. I was told by a detective here that if someone breaks into your home, you'd be better off beating them to death with a baseball bat then shooting them. Thank you states like Florida, and Texas who punish the criminals rather than the victims.

  14. Couple of points.

    In a crime like this just call the police. There's this thing called car insurance...maybe you've heard of it? Your car gets jacked, you get a new one. Then there's the odd observation that the SUV was going in reverse (trying to get away) and ended up in a ditch.

    Story hinges on the assertion that they were driving directly at him. If true, that was his own doing and it turned a theft into a death.

    Law is intended to protect persons / property from immediate threats of force. If the SUV was stolen at gun/knife point, the story sticks. That's not the case, and the thief should get a felony theft charge, the shooter manslaughter.

    I guess we can always go back to six shooters, spurs, whiskey in dirty glasses, showdowns in the street and mob vengeance if the rule of law doesn't sound like a good idea.

  15. i dont shoot to kill. i shoot to live.

  16. I have stewed on this one for a few days. I think the whole felony murder thing is totally fucked up (and outdated as Ryan 2L said) because so much nannyist junk is a felony now.

    As for the guy who shot her. I think stand your ground laws are great but this is a poor case for them. In a normal every day situation I would not use deadly force to protect property. If someone is trying to take my food in an emergency situation that is another matter but I am not going to die if someone steals my 4runner. That is what insurance is for. I really doubt I would have shot in that situation.

  17. Anonymous 7:57

    "An armed society is a polite society"

    "When seconds count, the police are just minutes away."

    Aside from the homilies, the statistics show that communities that require heads-of-household to own a firearm - have lower crime rates, and much lower violent crime.

    I look at it this way. Two felons are off the street this week. What impact this has on their associates, families - that will vary from tragic to making some people better citizens, as they become more familiar with the law and consequences.

    Not every gun owner intends to be Charles Bronson in "Death Wish" and set out to rid the world of Perps. I imagine every gun owner, even those carrying concealed, will have an individual reaction to any scenario where violence is or may be present.

    Look back at the days in the Wild West before the law intruded - lots of people had firearms, many knew how to use them, some how to use them well. And mostly just thugs and bullies went looking for people to kill. Sort of like today.

    The questions you raise about how necessary this shooting was, the consequences - they have likely impacted the shooter as well. Everyone should consider this before taking up a weapon of any kind. But I believe there is a good answer that supports the shooter. YMMV.

    The question I see is whether to tell citizens that they are expected to stand back and let bullies, thugs, and robbers have their way, without hindering or endangering them. Because there really is no other way to look for justice in this instance.

    The supreme court has made it clear - no citizen has a right to expect police to protect them. that isn't the job assigned to police. Police are expected to respond to reports of violence - harm has to have been done or be underway to get them involved. Citizens are expected to protect themselves. Choosing lower-risk livestyles, weapons, communities - these are personal choices.

    You should feel blessed that your parents and community provided you with the protection from harsher elements that allows you to feel the world is safe unless you go looking for trouble.

  18. The No Retreat Law, not withstanding; I’m not going to call the cops to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself. The landowner should be able to rest assured that the sanctity of his property (not just his home proper) will remain inviolate.

    For the sheep-like among us who would prefer to cower down between the wall and the bed at every little sound, then you can continue to put your trust in AT&T and I sincerely hope that works out for you.

    But speaking for myself, if it happens on MY property, I’m going to investigate – and wherever I go, I go armed. And when events take a turn for the worst, and lives hang in the balance, you can guarantee that I’ll place a higher value on MY life than I do the life of someone who has followed the advice of their own poor judgment.


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