Patterico's Pontifications

4/26/2008

Unexpected Texas Case on Defense of Property

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Crime,Law — DRJ @ 3:28 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

I thought the Houston-area Joe Horn case would be the case that would test a recent change in Texas law on self-defense and defense of property, but it looks like this Laredo case will be the one:

“A man who shot and killed a 13-year-old breaking into his mobile home has been indicted for murder in a case that could test a new law giving Texans more leeway to defend themselves with deadly force.

Jose Luis Gonzalez, 63, was indicted Friday in the July killing of a teenager who sneaked into his home with three friends to steal drinks and snacks. Francisco Anguiano was shot in the back and later died at a Laredo hospital.

Gonzalez was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder.

Gonzalez told authorities he was asleep in a nearby shed when he heard the teenagers inside his home and was trying to subdue the intruders when his gun went off.”

Gonzalez’s attorney said his client was rightfully protecting his property, referencing the recent change in Texas law that eliminated the requirement to retreat before using deadly force.

— DRJ

13 Responses to “Unexpected Texas Case on Defense of Property”

  1. Hard cases make bad law. The fact that the “victim” was 13 will detract from the test case this should be.

    Mike K (b9ce3e)

  2. Good thing the two principals both have Hispanic surnames; that should cut down the activist circus somewhat.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  3. SO the admitted thieves are pissed off?

    This makes no sense to me. Break into my house, and I’ll shoot you. Why is this a problem for some people?

    Oh yeah, because those people want to break into my house… I forgot. Can’t infringe on the rights of the people trying to steal my shit…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  4. Based on the defense atty. comment, it sounds to me that the new law may not even come into it. If the gun went off accidently, then Gonzalez wasn’t trying to use deadly force. Unless perhaps by accident they mean a spasm in the trigger finger while pointing the gun at a teenager who was running away (which I would surmise from the wound being in the back).

    kishnevi (d50358)

  5. Kishnevi,

    I think the new law does apply, at least in theory. IMO what defense counsel is saying is that EVEN IF Gonzalez intentionally fired the gun, his actions were still legal because Texas law no longer requires a person to prove they couldn’t retreat before using deadly force.

    Thus, as I read current Texas law, there is no issue over whether the intruder posed a threat to Gonzalez. The issue is whether the mobile home was Gonzalez’s property and he knew the intruder did not have a right to be there.

    However, there are obvious emotional factors in the age of the intruder and that it looks he was engaged in petty theft. Maybe Mike K is right that hard cases make bad law. I’m reminded of another saying: Some people only learn lessons the hard way.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  6. It might make a difference if the intruder was trying to leave the premises. The report says he was shot in the back–which might be due to the gun going off during a physical struggle in which Gonzalez was trying to subdue him in order to hold him for police, or which might be due to the intruder running away at the time the gun went off.

    Florida made a similar change in its laws about two years ago. I recall at most one case being mentioned in the news since then that might have involved the new law. (And I think the Florida law is broader, in that the option not to retreat is available in all circumstances, not just on one’s own property.

    kishnevi (b4f085)

  7. #6 kishnevi:

    the Florida law is broader, in that the option not to retreat is available in all circumstances, not just on one’s own property.

    That is correct. Although there remains a requirement that you are not provoking a confrontation prior to your use of deadly force.

    Honestly, there is so little detail in the story that it’s impossible to hazard any guess what the circumstances resulting in the kid’s death were.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  8. Call me heartless. If the cherub were properly supervised by the parents he would not have been out messing around or might have been taught about not committing crimes. Fact is that kid won’t be a recidivist nor will his mutant genes be reproduced. Yes I know, a harsh price to pay to get a Darwin award nomination, but better than the law-abiding citizen being endlessly victimized.
    Florida now has a law allowing you to keep a gun in your car. Might mean more car burglaries or might mean more self-defense. How many future miscreants might think twice if they are aware they might end up dead themselves?

    You have cops demonized for actually preventing further mayhem by a perp by taking out the punk. Happened here with a kid joyriding down a school passageway, endangering others. Cop ordered him to stop, poor kid continued on and was shot dead. Naturally the minority community was outraged.

    Look at an irate race-baiter Rev. Sharpton today demanded that his supporters shut down NYC to be shut down because cops were acquitted in a shooting. Was it a racial shooting if 2 out 3 cops were also black? The mob wants the cops dead.

    What will Denver dem convention be like? Sharpton has already called for vengeance if obamalamadingdong is stymied.

    madmax333 (e19ff8)

  9. Im sure the liberals will want him prosicuted and the juvinile crinimals family most likly illegal aleins will pribiby sue him over this in which case the lawyer and illegal aleisn should be deported to the jungles of costa rico

    krazy kagu (9f73fb)

  10. While Texas law may say that the defendant did not have to retreat first before using deadly force, by the punk kid victim having been shot in the back, it appears that he was retreating.

    This won’t be a good case.

    Dana R Pico (3e4784)

  11. But it’s still not murder. Voluntary manslaughter at most.

    nk (1f1707)

  12. The kid should not have been stealing in the first place. The salient fact is the kid did a B&E. Take the age out of the emotional smoke screen here. Try looking at this rationally, not emotionally.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  13. Exactly. The burglar initiated the violent situation so all questions in doubt should be resolved in favor of the homeowner.

    On the other hand, I have a kid too. I would not want her shot in the back while running away from a place where she should not have been.

    nk (1f1707)


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