by C.L. Phillips
Scene : Central Texas suburbs; upscale neighborhood
2:57 a.m. : Chevy Impala is involved in a single car accident, striking a stone mail box. The driver exits the car, flees the scene, scales a five foot tall iron fence and crawls under a minivan in a homeowner's driveway.
3:06 a.m. : Three shots fired. All find their target, the driver of the wrecked Impala. The shooter? The homeowner, wielding a .40 caliber Beretta.
3:30 p.m. : The homeowner is charged with murder.
Question : If you heard the crash, saw the driver crawling under your minivan, what would you do?
A) Lock your doors and go back to bed.
B) Call the police.
C) Go outside with your loaded gun.
In Texas, we have this law called the Castle Law (no, not after Richard Castle of ABC TV fame). The law says something to the effect that if you believe your life is in immediate danger (mortal risk) AND an intruder is on your property, you can shoot to kill. No problem.
The problem lies in the details. Immediate mortal danger. How do you prove it when the body lies one hundred feet from your front door?
Does your opinion change if the dead man is a twenty three year old Hispanic man? Does your opinion change when you discover he's not an illegal but a man who grew up in the neighborhood, a stellar student at the local high school?
What if the homeowner/shooter works for the IRS? What if the homeowner/shooter is Muslim?
Do the details about the victim and the homeowner/shooter change how you view the case?
Whatever you think, two families are shattered, one by death, and one by choice. I ask again, what would you do?