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Homeowner lays in ambush for burglar and kills him

On behalf of Terence Gross of Gross & Schuster, P.A. posted in Wrongful Death on Thursday, January 17, 2013.

Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law is back in the headlines again, this time in North Miami-Dade. A 19 year-old man was at home in his apartment a few days ago when a burglar broke in. The resident grabbed his pistol, hid in the living room, and fired off eight shots. All of them missed and the burglar ducked into a bedroom, looking for an escape route. Police say the resident ran outside and waited at least three minutes until he saw the burglar trying to climb out the window. Eight more shots followed and the unarmed intruderfell dead.

Authorities say it happened like this. The man, who lives in the apartment with his mother, heard a knock at the door around 11 PM. He didn’t answer, but he did get his pistol and lay down on the floor for five minutes, waiting for whoever was trying to enter through a sliding glass door in a rear bedroom. Seeing the burglar’s shadow near the bedroom, the man opened fire and the intruder ducked back inside the room. The shooter ran outside, and when he saw the burglar in the window, he opened fire again. The police were called only after the entire episode was over.

The suspect’s attorney says his client with completely within the law when he used deadly force to protect himself inside his own home. The county prosecutor disagrees, saying the intruder was no longer a threat once the resident left the apartment and ran outside. “He no longer needed to use force to defend himself,” the prosecutor said. The 19 year-old has no criminal history and his attorney declared in court, “He has the absolute right to defend himself inside his own home.”

But what if the threatened individual is no longer in his home and the intruder is doing his level best to get away? No doubt prosecutors will argue that the man should have sought help from the police after he left the apartment, instead of trying to resolve the crime with gunfire. Florida’s law is on the shooter’s side. Judges can dismiss charges unilaterally, and that has already happened at least three times in Miami-Dade. As long as a person is in fear of death or serious injury, the Stand Your Ground Law can be invoked. In this case, the man’s lawyer says he didn’t know how many people were involved and whether they were more inside, so he was still in fear of his life. Governor Rick Scott has commissioned a study to examine whether the law’s provisions are too lax.

Source: Miami Herald, Miami-Dade man claims self defense in killing of intruder David Ovalle, Jan. 17, 2013

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