Monday, November 26, 2007

This Is Pretty Macho

Joe Horn, a resident of Pasadena, Texas, used a shotgun to kill two men who were burglarizing his neighbor's house, while he was on the telephone with a 911 dispatcher.

In Texas, deadly force can be used to prevent burglary, robbery, theft, or criminal mischief to your own property. Texas even has a "make my day" statute which makes it legal to shoot and kill a fleeing burglar, robber or thief. Think about it - you can shoot a fleeing burglar in the back, even if there is no potential risk to your personal safety, or the personal safety of your family members. Texas being Texas, he wasn't arrested, and opinion polls show that two out of three Texans support his actions and to not believe he should be imprisoned. A grand jury will determine whether charges will be filed.

The audio recording of the entire incident can be heard here.

Is Joe Horn a good neighbor? Is he a vigilante? Is it possible to be a little bit of both?


IsmaelTapiaII said...

I think he's a fucking vigilante and that he should be thrown in jail. Listening to the tape makes it clear that he was in absolutely no danger and had absolutely no justification for shooting those men. He's a murderer, plain and simple.

Incidentally, the Rising Jurist has already discussed this here

Inspector Frank Bumstead said...

Hmm... quite the interesting situation. I'm still not certain what I think on it.

I can see why property might not be "worth" murder, but there's something to be said about adrealine pumping in a bad situation, being fearful that it could be your house next time, and actually coming face to face with the burglars--2 vs an old man.

What if the men had just raped his neighbor's wife? Or little daughter? Would that change people's feelings about shooting them?

Wade Garrett said...

I think the big problem here is that he shot them after they had already left the house, when they were fleeing the scene of the crime. I think it goes without saying that deadly force should never be used to merely to protect property. Of course, protecting people is another story.

If they were still in the house, and Horn thought that his neighbors were home, then I personally think that he would have been justified in running over there with his gun. Once he's over there with his gun, he's entitled to use force to defend himself if the burglars were armed with deadly weapons. However, since they were fleeing with "sacks of loot" and no longer posed a threat to anybody's safety, I don't think he was justified in doing what he did.

8yearoldsdude said...

did he pull a cell phone out of his gun case to call his mother afterward? if so, I think it enters the realm of premeditation.

Wade Garrett said...

8yearoldsdude - That's an interesting question, and I don't really know the answer. Texas has really weird laws - they define self-defense so broadly that the term almost becomes meaningless. In most states, you, or another person, has to be in imminent danger in order to justify the use of deadly force against the aggressor. In Texas, and other southwestern states, the law is much different. It really is No Country For Old Men.