Patterico's Pontifications


Another Joe Horn-Type Case in Texas

Filed under: Crime,Humor,Law — DRJ @ 6:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Kingsland is a small community located on Lake LBJ, one of a chain of lakes that run through Central Texas. There are many full-time residents but it is also a tourist destination for people who enjoy lake fishing, water sports, and hunting. There are several resorts and residential developments in the area and it is popular with retirees. Kingsland is situated in Llano County, a fairly rural and (I think) conservative county Northwest of Austin and Travis County.

Kingsland is also the site of an incident similar to the facts in the Joe Horn case. This one involves a man who shot and critically wounded a suspected burglar driving away from a neighbor’s property. Like Joe Horn, the man has cooperated with police but, unlike the Horn case, a warrant has been issued for his arrest. There don’t appear to be any neutral witnesses.

The facts are complicated so, if you are interested, please read this Austin American-Statesman article. I know you all remember the applicable laws so it’s time to put on your Texas lawyer hats.


10 Responses to “Another Joe Horn-Type Case in Texas”

  1. Situation is different. The burglars were in the SUV and he never saw a weapon. Plus he was not on his property and the burglars were not approaching him on his property.

    RAH (f3b841)

  2. My question would be did the shooter observe the individuals he confronted, exiting his neighbors home? It’s pretty obvious that they didn’t have any business there; but, absent visual proof of a B&E, I wonder if there was any PC to use deadly force? Of course, if the one alleged burglar was reaching for a weapon within the car, waiting until he produced it might be a point of confirmation with very negative results.

    There are a lot of un-answered questions in that newpaper article. It will be interesting to see how this is picked-up on, and followed-up, by other media sources within TX.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  3. I would suggest that the likelihood of B&E artists fleeing Texas for more suitable climes is very great. No future in it in the Lone Star State.

    j.pickens (53ee7a)

  4. Yeah, This guy is a little boned.

    Even if they WERE B&E guys, the situation is still quite different.

    Should have just taken down the plate number…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  5. OK. Let’s assume that everything in the Statesman article is correct. So here’s what happened.

    1. Man sees vehicle pass by several times, then back into neighbor’s driveway. Man knows the occupants aren’t neighbors, goes out to confront them carrying a 45.

    I believe everything is fine here so far.

    2. One of the suspected burglars reaches into the car, and the man, fearing that the suspected burglar is gettting a weapon, begins firing at the car.

    Now we get into the grey area. There are two areas that will probably come into play. One is that deadly force is justified if he “reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force.”

    The other is that deadly force can be used to “protect his property to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime, and he reasonably believes that the property cannot be protected by any other means.” And the law allows the same for protection of the property of others.

    So basically, it all is going to boil down to whether or not he “reasonably believed” that deadly force was necessary. And I guess that will be up to a jury, but I can’t say that I’d have proceeded on it. And, of course, the jury probably won’t be told that one of the vehicle occupants had outstanding warrants for theft.

    A complicating factor is that the self-defense provisions don’t come into play if the man “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his person a handgun…”, but this seems explicitly contradicted by the state constitution’s bill of rights which guarantees the right to bear arms for lawful defense.

    So all in all, it’s a mess. I can certainly see how they could indict him, and depending on the jury, could see the case going either way. And I could see it getting appealed up through the Texas Courts of Appeals.

    One more final thought on the article. It says “Wheat said Oakes has not said why he did not call authorities before going to investigate.” This seems meaningless, surely there’s no requirement to have done so, and seems solely placed in the article to sway the sympathies of the reader.

    Skip (522b21)

  6. Skip,

    I think that’s a very helpful analysis. Like you, I’m interested in more information regarding why he thought they might be burglars. I wonder if the neighbors asked him to watch the house because they were going to be away; or if he knew one or more of the men in the car; or if he had other reasons than their behavior to suspect them. In small towns like Kingsland, it’s not unusual to know virtually everyone you see. Or it could be that not knowing them made him suspicious.

    Likewise, I’m also interested in what happened that made him believe someone was reaching for a weapon and whether he had other reasons to believe they had a gun.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  7. seems to me that they only punishment he might be eligible for is a refresher course on pistol marksmanship.

    he knows they’re not his neighbors and they are evidently taking his neighbor’s property. as for not calling the cops, the last time i called LAPD about someone tying to use force & intimidation to enter my home, they called back 2 hours later ans asked if i could still see him, since they finally had a unit in the AO.

    why bother? when seconds count, the cops are only hours away.

    redc1c4 (ae7a64)

  8. One thing not mentioned here is did the getaway SUV try to run the old guy down?

    Now, what liberal is going to really admit that if the guy just shot the SUV they would be celebrating him?

    PCD (5c49b0)

  9. More info:

    Authorities say that Michael Jeffers, Matthew Winger of Kingsland, and Casey Rowe attempted to break into a house at the 4700 block of River Oaks Drive in Kingsland last Wednesday, July 30, about 7 a.m.

    When confronted by Oakes, the group allegedly continued putting items from the house in their car. Oakes fired several rounds at the car, critically injuring Rowe. The burglars then fled the scene.


    capitano (03e5ec)

  10. Video link for local flavor.

    More info:

    “The one that shot one of the people was trying to defend the property,” said Margaret Dotson, neighbor. She lives three houses down from the shooting and said the home where the shooting happened is owned by someone out-of-state, who doesn’t usually live at the lakeside home.

    Link with more video.

    capitano (03e5ec)

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