Vigilante Justice Or Homicide?

joehorn2.jpg

What’s worse burglary or murder? This is a question that is so easy to answer, yet if you listen to the supporters of 61 year old Joe Horn, you would think that burglary was the epitome of crimes. I am talking about the case of Joe Horn who shot two of three suspected burglars to death as they walked from his neighbor’s yard in Texas. He was talking with the 911 operator when he did it.

I am sure that people are reading this and saying “but Black Sentinel isn’t a crime a crime?” Of course and I don’t have any problems with that. The problems I do have is when someone decides that this is now the wild, wild west and breaks out a gun and starts shooting those he “suspects” are guilty of a crime. I am pretty darn sure that those three men “were” robbing Horn’s neighbor, yet whose responsibility is it to make sure that those involved in crime pay for them? I know that Horn believes that it was he that had the right.

This is a clear cut case of murder. I believe that it can be looked at as premeditated murder if you read or listen to his conversation with the 911 operator.(read the transcript here) The operator tells him, “Don’t go outside the house, you’re going to get yourself shot if you go outside with a gun. I don’t care what you think.” Horn then replies, “You wanna make a bet; I’m going to kill them.” Not to mention that when he was shooting you can hear on the phone call him stating “you’re dead” then the loud cracks of a gun firing. What about stating you are going to kill someone right before you do it isn’t considered premeditated murder?

People are saying things such as “if we start doling justice like Horn, crime would go down.” Did crime in the old west go down when you could shoot people justly in the streets? Nope, in fact crime was out of control, which is the reason we had to enact new laws in order to stop people from taking it upon themselves to dole out the justice. What would have stopped another neighbor from seeing Horn with his gun, not knowing exactly what “he” was doing, go get their gun and shoot him, thinking “he” was in the middle of committing a crime as well. This kind of action opens up a can of worms that once out is going to get out of hand very quickly.

He told the dispatcher that he saw them coming out the window and had to go, where he went over to the neighbor’s yard to confront the men. He claims that he didn’t expect to see them, yet he could see them and ran over there with his gun, is he kidding. He says that they came towards the front yard and he “had” to shoot. If he had stayed in the house like he was told he wouldn’t have “HAD” to shoot anyone. The point is he WANTED to shoot those men. He even stated a new law called the Castle Doctrine Bill as a means that would protect him “if he kills them.” Senator Jeff Wentworth says that the bill was not written to protect a person in this situation.

The senator says the bill is intended to defend someone that is defending themselves or their family etc. from someone breaking into their occupied home, car or business, not a neighbor’s home which was unoccupied at the time. Like the senator said, in HIS OWN HOME, not some house next door, down the street or how about across town. So this man hadn’t even read the law he was citing before he went off to do his little shooting spree. Now is this the type of person we want taking it upon themselves to give justice at will? I don’t feel safe with this moron out supposedly protecting me or anyone else.

I am seeing on the news paper Blogs a lot of people are saying that this man is a hero because these two guys were scumbags and deserved to be shot dead, as they would be out robbing someone else right now. They are also talking about how this guy Horn shouldn’t have to cower in his home while burglars are running amok. Now the problem I am having is yes these guys probably were scumbags, but when did being a scumbag deserve death? Also, Horn was not being robbed personally so he didn’t need to cower in his home, remember, he went out and confronted the alleged scumbags. Also, if they were in “HIS” home I probably wouldn’t have a problem with what happened.

This has turned into a race problem since the protestors seem to be minorities and the people who are supporting him are white. The supporters are also running around with the confederate flag, I even seen a confederate flag painted on the back of one person’s head. I think that the reason the minorities are painting this as a racist problem could be that the man probably would not have run out of his house to shoot these fellows if they were white. He likely would have asked them what they were doing. This is the discrepancy, he might have jumped the gun and these guys could have been a construction team doing work, he didn’t know and that is the problem with people deciding that they have the right to play police man.

47 Comments

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47 responses to “Vigilante Justice Or Homicide?

  1. aj

    It’s disturbing that folks are calling this man a good neighbor and hero. Last I checked, burglary was not punishable by death.

  2. theblacksentinel

    aj,

    That is exactly my point as well. If what he did was OK then maybe the law should change and burglary should be a capitol offense punishable by death or life in prison.

    And since it isn’t I feel that “his” brand of justice was a bit harsh for the circumstances. He could have just held them for the cops if he was that upset. Yet he said he was going to kill them and then he did. That to me is premeditated murder.

    If I call the cops and say I am going to kill my family and I do, no matter what excuse I come up with, it was premeditated murder.

    Thanks for the reply.

  3. Damien

    This guy needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law!
    This cowboy attitude in this country with some folk.
    He did what he wanted to do so he should pay for it… I’m sure the only people calling him a hero are people who wish they could pop off a couple brothers. He/they wish and want to get away with it.
    Police can’t/shouldn’t use deadly force unless the perceived suspect poses a threat to the officers or any other persons life. Didn’t sound like, to me, these men were threatening anyones life.

  4. theblacksentinel

    Damien,

    I am absolutely sure that they were not threatening this mans life. Seeing as if “he” hadn’t run over there with a gun, they would have never made contact with each other.

    He claims they were coming toward him, well he was between them and their get away car, so of course they are going to come that direction. He is nothing more than a thug who decided to take the lives of people who he felt deserved his brand of justice.

    Like I said in the post, he probably would have asked the two guys, if they were white, what they were doing, or at least once they dropped the bag of goods, let them run away. But since he felt these black guys were trying to get away even without the goods, he shot them.

    MURDER!!!

    Thanks for the reply.

  5. cbrtxus

    Mr. Horn should not have attempted a citizen’s arrest even though the Texas Penal Code Sec. 9.51 (2)(b) permits it. He put himself in an extremely dangerous situation. It is unlikely that the two criminals would have attacked a uniformed officer. It is much more likely that they would attack and kill an elderly citizen who would be the only witness against them in court.

    Even though Mr. Horn put himself in that position, he still had a legal right to defend himself. The criminals would have been wise to hit the ground when Mr. Horn said something like “Move and your dead.” [I have seen several different versions of what he said. Listening to the audio, I couldn’t tell for certain] They could have turned and simply run away—regardless of where their getaway car was. In either case, they would no longer have been a threat to Mr. Horn.

    Under those circumstances, had Mr. Horn killed them, he would be charged with murder. Citizens can use deadly force to defend themselves, another person, and under some circumstances property. Citizens can not use deadly force to punish criminals for committing a crime. We have courts for that.

    From what I have read so far, it appears that the criminals came towards for Mr. Horn after he confronted them and told them not to move. And that they were on his property when the shots were fired. Ask any police officer whether he would consider two criminals who are fifteen feet away and advancing towards him, even though he has his weapon drawn, a threat. Even without a weapon, the two men could have beat Mr. Horn to death. But in less than a second, they could have taken Mr. Horn’s weapon and killed him with it. If the criminals were not armed, that doesn’t mean that they were not a threat. Mr. Horn is lucky to have survived…

    Mr. Horn was in mortal danger. Can anyone logically explain why he wasn’t? Or why Mr. Horn should bet his own life that two men that he had just watch commit a felony wouldn’t harm him even though they were advancing towards him.

    I sure hate to see both black and white demagogues try to turn this into a racial issue. Does anyone seriously believe that Mr. Horn would have let the criminals depart with his neighbor’s property had they been white?

    I have a serious question that I hope someone will address. If Mr. Horn had been the one that was killed. Would anyone be trying to say that the crime was racially motivated? Or that it was a “hate crime.”

  6. theblacksentinel

    cbrtxus,

    Unfortunately, I don’t share your sentiment. I understand that people have the right to do a citizens arrest, yet is it a prudent thing to do? Do the cops not know how to do their jobs that we need to intervene? Also, couldn’t he just take down the license number like any other concerned person?

    I have a lot of questions for this guy. Also, you say that he was being threatened because they walked towards him etc. I think that he shot one in the side as he tried to run away, while yelling that they were trying to get away. Now that doesn’t sound like he was being accosted. It sounds like he was doing the accosting. Also, the criminals dropped the bag of goods and were trying to get away, he should not have intervened in that.

    Anyway, the rap sheets for these guys were all non violent crimes, so the likelihood that he was in danger was low. Which to me is besides the point. He said, I AM GOING TO KILL THEM, that is exactly what he did. That doesn’t sound like he was trying to make a citizens arrest, it sounds more like he was going to kill them.

    What about shooting them don’t you see as punishing them. I know that you have the right to a citizens arrest, you DO NOT have a right to shoot a person when they try to leave the scene of a crime. He had no business going over there in the first place. He was not in danger, until he placed himself in danger. Scratch that, I think he placed them all in danger. Not to say that the criminals aren’t culpable, trust me I think they are, yet theft is not a death sentence.

    Also, if Mr. Horn had gotten killed in the fray, I would not think it was a hate crime, because it is quite apparent it would be a crime of convenience. Not to mention, he still should not have put himself in that position after being told by the police professional to stay put. I don’t necessarily think that Mr. Horn acted as a racist, yet, would he shoot the white guys, I really don’t think he would have.

    He stated he was going to kill them, I can’t repeat that enough. That to me is premeditated murder. He is NOT a police man so it doesn’t matter what a police officer would have done in his position. He had NO business over there. Let the police do their job. When we as the public start shooting who we feel are guilty suspects then all out chaos is all that will ensue.

    Thanks for the reply.

  7. Cbrtxus, I think you’re missing the point.

    Horn appears to have gone after these men with an intent to kill them. If that’s the case, then he committed murder, just as a police officer would be guilty of murder if she arrived on a scene with the intention of killing any suspects she found. Horn can’t defend himself against that charge by arguing that in carrying out his plan, he put himself in danger from those he was trying to kill.

    Just imagine any murderer saying, “But, your honor, I was only acting in self-defense! After all, once the victim figured out that I was there to kill him, don’t you think he’d want to kill me first?”

    At a minimum, Horn admits that he went after these men with the intention of putting himself into an extremely dangerous situation. It’s as if I saw the police confronting armed robbers on my street, and chose to walk into the middle of it, with a gun in my hand, to “help out.” I can’t then shoot a police officer and claim self-defense, on the theory that the officer would probably think I was a suspect and be likely to shoot me.

    As for whether this crime was racially motivated or not, we may never know what Horn was thinking. But it seems unlikely, to me, that he would have been so certain that a pair of white men in his neighbor’s yard were criminals (rather than repairmen, or surveyors from the county, or the like) that he would have executed them.

  8. theblacksentinel

    James,

    Absolutely great comment. You really nailed what I am thinking.

    Thanks for the reply

  9. cbrtxus

    James, it definitely wasn’t a prudent thing to do. You and I agree on that point for sure. But based on what I have seen and read so far, it wasn’t murder.

    I prefaced my remarks by saying that Mr. Horn should not have attempted a citizen’s arrest even though it is permitted under law. He could easily have been killed. He is darned lucky that he isn’t six feet under right now. I hope that no one here would prefer that it had been Mr. Horn that was killed rather than the criminals.

    I can understand Mr. Horn’s frustration. Burglars are seldom caught and property is seldom recovered once they depart. Someone broke into my business recently. Even though I have insurance, it will cost me well over a thousand dollars out of pocket. I am semi-retired now. What those criminals stole is not easily replaced.

    If Mr. Horn set out to kill those men, then he should be charged with murder. If he set out to keep them from departing with his neighbor’s property and ended up in a potential kill or be killed situation, then we can charge him will being foolish but that isn’t a crime. Defending oneself isn’t a crime either.

    Sentinel, I listened to the audio. I don’t recall ever hearing Mr. Horn say that he was going to kill the criminals. Is that your interpretation of something he said? Or is it something that he actually said? I do recall that Mr. Horn said something about being able to defend himself if necessary. Can you point me to a source for the “I am going to kill them” quote? If he actually said that, I would have to reconsider my position on all of this.

    You said that you can’t repeat that enough. But let us not repeat something that he never actually said and claim that it is evidence of premeditated murder.

    You mentioned that the criminals had only non-violent crimes on their records. That doesn’t impress me at all. The criminal who killed my neighbor and raped his wife some years ago also had only non-violent crimes on his. They lived across the street and three houses down. My neighbor had already left for work. The criminal (15 years old as I recall) accosted his wife and forced her back into the house where he raped her. Then he proceeded to ransack the house.

    Unfortunately, my neighbor returned home. We will never know why. His wife tried to warn him. He either didn’t hear her or couldn’t react quickly enough. The criminal shot him in the head and killed him instantly.

    My point is that all rap sheets are for only non-violent crimes until the criminal commits his first violent crime, is caught, and is convicted. Mr. Horn wouldn’t have been aware of their criminal record in any case.

    Are you suggesting that Mr. Horn should have let them approach him and trust that they wouldn’t harm him? Trust two men that he had just watched commit a felony? Two men that were didn’t stop coming towards him even though he was armed and telling them not to move? If they were within 20 or 30 feet they were way too close. Ask any police officer… I heard that they were within 15 feet of him. They could have traversed that distance in about a second. Mr. Horn had plenty of reason to fear for his life. He had no way to know what the criminals were going to do.

    I do want to thank both of you for responding.

  10. theblacksentinel

    cbrtxus,

    In the audio transcript you can hear him plainly talking to the operator when the operator says if you go out there with a gun you will get yourself killed. He then replies “you wanna bet”, “I’m going to kill them”. That is what he said.

    I don’t think he should have been in fear of his life. He should have let the cops do their job. I have been robbed as well, yet I don’t think a person deserves to be killed over it.

    Thanks

  11. cbrtxus

    Sentinel, I’m sorry. You were right and I was wrong. I had listened to the audio several times without catching his “I’m going to kill them” remark. That may very well be enough to get him indicted.

    A prosecuting attorney would be very foolish to put me on a jury in this case. I have little sympathy for criminals who are killed or injured while committing a crime for reasons that I mentioned and for other reasons that I didn’t go in to. If I was on a jury, I would have to consider the fact that Mr. Horn was obviously very upset when he made the remark. It may have just been bravado in response to the operator saying that he was going to get himself killed but I have to admit that it is troubling. I would also have to consider the fact that the two men that he shot had just committed a felony and that Mr. Horn had watched them do it.

    Regardless of what Mr. Horn said, I would have to believe that Mr. Horn was not in any possible danger when he confronted the two criminals in order to find Mr. Horn guilty of murder or manslaughter. I think that any reasonable person who was within 15 feet of two felons leaving the scene of their crime would probably fear for his life. Whether Mr. Horn was actually in danger is probably what this will turn on rather than his intemperate remarks to the dispatcher. Even though Mr. Horn placed himself into a very dangerous situation, he was still entitled to defend himself.

    But…

    Your remarks were well taken. I had missed a very important part of the audio. You pointed me to where it was in the audio because I had remembered what the dispatcher said right before that. I appreciate it. I do want to have all of the facts.

    Best regards

  12. aj

    Mr. Horn murdered those men in cold blood. They were not given an opportunity to surrender, retreat or anything else. He simply said “move your dead” bang, bang, bang. He put himself in this position, thus he can’t call self-defense.

  13. theblacksentinel

    cbrtxus,

    I am glad to have helped. You played a great devils advocate though. Don’t be too hard on yourself to error is human.

    Thanks

  14. cbrtxus

    Sentinel, the “I’m going to kill them” comment certainly complicates matters. But don’t be too quick to forgive my poor hearing (actually I do have problems).

    I now think that it is possible (but still not likely) that Mr. Horn went down there fully intending to kill the two criminals no matter what, rather than just stop them. If that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, he might be convicted of murder. However, can that be proven?

    Taken in context, Mr. Horn’s meaning could have been he would kill the criminals rather than allowing himself to be killed by them. I suspect that most of us would feel that way. Only Mr. Horn can really testify to what he meant when he said what he said.

    It appears that Mr. Horn was on his own property. It also appears that the two felons were on Mr. Horn’s property, moving towards him rather than away from him, and that they were dangerously close (15 feet or so). My understanding is that one of them was shot in the front and the other in the side. It is possible for someone to be facing you and turn just as you commit to fire your weapon. Neither of them appears to have been shot in the back.

    I doubt that he will be indicted, The Grand Jury is unlikely to indict knowing that he would not be convicted.

    This is why. He was on his own property and the criminals were apparently approaching him. The jury would have to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Horn had no reason for fear for his safety.

    Would jurors really believe that a man who was interrupting (foolishly) a felony in progress was not in any possible danger? The fact that he placed himself in that position would be irrelevant.

    On one side is Mr. Horn, who by all accounts is an hard-working, honest citizen–well-liked by most of his neighbors. On the other side are two predators. If the jury cannot know for sure, who would get the benefit of the doubt? Mr. Horn or the felons? If the jury has a reasonable doubt, they should not convict.

    My best ragards

  15. theblacksentinel

    You know, Ted Bundy was LOVED by his neighbor’s and all his friends that does not mean he is not culpable in the deaths of some people. Also, I think that the felons were loved by their family and neighbor’s so does that now absolve them of being considered guilty criminals. NO! The felons bodies were not found dead on the his lawn, so I doubt that he can go with the story they were chasing him down on his own property.

    Also, we can go through all the would have, could have and should haves yet, he killed two people after saying he was going to do just that. If a jury takes the background of the felons into account they should be shamed. Do we take into account that the woman who claims rape has slept with over twenty men in the last month. So wouldn’t we then say that she has been giving it so willingly that this is probably just another case of that.

    Also, he wasn’t in danger because he was in his home and the felons weren’t coming into his house. He went to them and engaged them not the opposite. So he “put” himself in danger, they did not put him in danger even though they were committing a crime. If he had done what the professional told him to do, the felons would be in custody and no one would be dead.

    I don’t believe that juries should be giving anyone the “benefit of the doubt.” They should be looking at what was said then what was done. It doesn’t really matter what he “says” was going on since he is the only one alive to tell the story. Would they say that they were not moving forward and that he just shot them out of anger. We don’t know. So we could go round and round about what “might” have happened that day.

  16. Cbrtxus, you keep offering statements which appear to be about the law, but aren’t.

    For instance, you say that to prove murder, a jury would have to be convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Horn had stepped outside with the intention of killing the two men.

    But that’s simply not true. To prove murder, the jury would only have to be convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had intended to kill the men when he fired the gun. His statement on the phone might help with that, but it wouldn’t have to stand alone. And to put him in jail, for many years, for a crime like manslaughter wouldn’t even require that he meant to kill them.

    Similarly, you say that the jury would have to believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that “Horn had no reason for fear for his safety.”

    That’s not true either. Horn has to try to prove to the jury that he acted in self-defense, not the other way around. And self-defense doesn’t mean that Horn had some “reason to fear for his safety”: generally, that defense would require, for instance, that he must not have approached the two men with a deadly weapon, and that he couldn’t have avoided the threat by, say, staying indoors.

    You also talk at length about what you would consider if you were on a jury in this case. If you were, the judge would instruct you in the specifics of the law, and you would be required, under penalty of law, to apply those legal rules to the facts of the case. It wouldn’t be up to you, for instance, to refuse “to find Mr. Horn guilty of murder or manslaughter” unless you were convinced that he “was not in any possible danger when he confronted the two criminals,” as you said earlier. That’s simply not the law.

  17. cbrtxus

    By the way Sentinel, I intended to give you a “heads up” about the link to the transcript in your original article but forgot to do it.

    Mr. Horn’s “I’m going to kill them” comment appears to have been left out of that transcript. When I first responded, I had assumed that the quote was your interpretation of something he said rather than something he actually said because it wasn’t in the transcript attached to your article and I had not caught it in the audio.

    But when I listened carefully to the original audio, it was there. Mr. Horn’s voice seemed to trail off when he said it, so it is possible for someone to have missed it.

    The media really needs to start being a whole lot more careful about their accuracy in reporting the news. These days we read the newspaper or listen to broadcast “journalists” then wonder what really happened.

    More and more, we go to the Internet to search for the truth. I have come to believe that “journalists” are more often advocates of a particular political position masquerading as journalists.

    Anyway, see if you can find his “I’m going to kill them” comment in the transcript. If it is really there, I guess I will have to eat crow yet again. Crow is becoming an ever increasing part of my diet. :)

    Regards,

  18. theblacksentinel

    cbrtxus,

    You are right. I have noticed that in ALL the written transcripts that I found had left that out. I did want to add a link to the audio version where it is plain and clear to hear. Which leads me to wonder WHY these written transcripts leave that out.

    Thanks for the heads up though.

  19. cbrtxus

    Sentinel, I don’t think that the background of the felons would necessarily be admissible but I think that the fact that they were in the process of committing a felony when they were killed would be.

    Prosecutors might want the jury to know that their criminal record did not include any convictions for a violent crime up to that point. But if prosecutors opened that line up, then the defense could probably bring in any prior criminal convictions and maybe the fact that at least one of them was using an alias. If they were in this country illegally, the jury might be able to hear that too.

    I didn’t intend to suggest that being liked by neighbors should absolve someone of the crime of murder. However, if Mr. Horn had been regarded by his neighbors as a dangerous and unstable person, it would certainly enter into my assessment of his actions. Prosecutors would probably try to have neighbors testify to that if it were the case.

    I have heard that the criminals were in Mr. Horn’s yard when they were shot. I have also heard that they were not. Where their bodies were found after they were shot isn’t necessarily important. People who are mortally wounded are often found hundreds of feet or more from where they were actually shot. Also, a shotgun blast to the torso might propel someone away from the shotgun even if they were coming towards you when the shot was fired.

    I don’t think that this case will turn on where the bodies were found. Probably not where they were when they were shot either unless they were far enough from Mr. Horn to not reasonably represent a threat to his life. Anything less than twenty or even thirty feet is actually a threat—ask almost any police officer.

    However, if Mr. Horn and the criminals were on all on Mr. Horn’s property when the shots were fired, that would greatly simplify his defense.

    I have never heard that the criminals were chasing Mr. Horn. For Mr. Horn to try to run away from two much younger men would have been pointless.

    Mr. Horn had a legal right to be in his own front yard regardless of the instructions of the dispatcher. But I think that you are mostly correct about what would have happened had Mr. Horn done what the dispatcher told him to do. I would amend it somewhat though.

    Had Mr. Horn done what the dispatcher told him to do, the two felons would probably be alive today and there is a chance that they might have been captured. And, had they been captured, they would probably already be out on bail trying to raise money for attorney fees. Or they might have escaped with their loot and still be out on the street doing what they do best.

    By going out there, Mr. Horn foolishly placed his own life at risk. But that is not a crime. Can anyone really say for certain that his life wasn’t at risk once he was out there in close proximity to the two felons?

    Police officers often intentionally place themselves at the scene of a crime in progress. If they reasonably believe that the criminal is an imminent threat, they are allowed to use deadly force in defense of their own life and the lives of their fellow citizens. It fact, they are trained to do that.

    Would we try to argue that police officers should not attempt to arrive while the crime is in progress? And that if they rush to the scene to try to stop a crime in progress and end up killing someone, it is murder? Texas law does not prohibit a citizen from making a citizen’s arrest under certain circumstances. However, it is fraught with danger on many levels as Mr. Horn has come to realize.

    This case will probably turn on whether a reasonable person would fear for his life under the same circumstances that Mr. Horn found himself in. The fact that Mr. Horn placed himself there is probably not germane.

    Mr. Horn’s “I’m going to kill them” remark does complicate his defense. Taken out of context, it does seem to support a contention that he went outside intending to kill the two felons. And, I will concede that it is possible that he did. But it is equally possible that he didn’t. If you look at his remark in context, his meaning may have been that he would he would kill them rather than let them kill him. I would feel the same way as would most jurors I suspect.

    Juries are required to acquit if there is a reasonable doubt about the guilt of the person accused. I remember one jury that acquitted a man who was charged with brutally killing two people. The evidence of his guilt seemed to be overwhelming. But the jury acquitted him mostly because a skin tight glove didn’t not appear to fit his hand. But the jury had a doubt as to the guilt of the accused. I believe that the jury had a right and even an obligation to acquit him.

    We are supposed to let the accused walk when there is even a little doubt rather than convict someone who might be innocent. That is the benefit of the doubt that I was referring to. Our system of justice often falls short of the mark, but I cannot think of anywhere else that justice is better served.

    Sentinel, this is an interesting issue. I appreciate that you are taking time to respond.

  20. cbrtxus

    Sentinel, I think that most of the media would probably tend to be critical of what Mr. Horn did. I think that they are inclined view self-defense—if that is what it was—as a return to our more primitive roots. I don’t agree with that assessment of course. I think self-defense that it is an important part of a free and civilized society. But that would be another subject entirely.

    So I doubt that it is a media conspiracy in defense of Mr. Horn. I think that it is more likely to be laziness on the part of “journalists.” They got a transcript and ran with it without ever actually checking it against the audio most likely. But, I did the same thing. My only defense is that I don’t claim to be a journalist.

    I’m old enough that I tend to take most everything with a grain of salt these days. Everyone has an agenda. I tend to give special scrutiny to those claiming that they don’t. :)

    Best regards

  21. cbrtxus

    Hello James, I appreciate your comments. You raise some technical points which I think are valid. If you are an attorney, perhaps you could point me to the applicable statutes to help me better understand the application of law in this case. I’m not an attorney but this is my understanding.

    Self-defense is a defense against prosecution. I had not intended to suggest that Mr. Horn would not have to convince a jury that he was defending himself when he killed the two felons and that his use of deadly force was reasonable. You were correct in pointing that out. If the castle doctrine applied in this case, the burden of proof might be more on the state than Mr. Horn. But I don’t really see how the castle doctrine it would apply in this case.

    If someone intends to kill someone and they do it, that would be murder. On the other hand, if someone is attacked and they kill their attacker intending only to keep the attacker from killing or seriously harming them, it would not be murder. You are not required to wait until a knife enters your chest or a crowbar cracks your scull to defend yourself. But your response to an imminent threat of death or serious harm must be reasonable.

    If Mr. Horn went outside intending to kill the two felons, it would be murder. I thought that I was clear on that point. If he went outside intended only to keep them from getting away but was forced to use deadly force in response to an immentent threat of death or serious harm, it would not be murder. The jury would have to decide whether Mr. Horn was reasonable in his fear of death or serious injury at the hands of the two felons as I understand it.

    Do you think that if Mr. Horn was not reasonably in danger of death or serious harm when he confronted the two felons? I’m just curious. Perhaps they were benevolent felons :)

    Here is another scenario. The law relating to deadly force isn’t much different for a police officer as I understand it. In fact, a police officer might actually be held to a higher standard. If a police officer arrives on the scene intending to kill a burglar and does so, it would be murder. But let’s say that the police officer arrives on the scene and burglar raises a crow bar to strike the officer. The police officer isn’t required to respond only with another crowbar. Deadly force of any type can be met with deadly force of any type as I understand the law. If the police officer uses deadly force to keep from being hit by the crow bar, it would not be murder.

    I don’t quite understand “that he must not have approached the two men with a deadly weapon, and that he couldn’t have avoided the threat by, say, staying indoors.” I don’t believe that part of the Penal Code was intended to deal with citizen’s arrest. That would suggest that a citizen (or a police officer) would somehow have to make an arrest without accosting the criminals in order to claim self-defense if subjected to the imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury in the process.

    I think that you and I have a totally different view of what the function of a jury of our peers should be. I don’t think that the jury should be a rubber stamp for a judge. I realize that this is a contentious issue. Honorable men can disagree on this point. But without the possibility of jury nullification, I wonder what the point of a jury of our peers would really be. Would you concede that it would be possible for an errant judge to perpetrate an injustice by providing instructions in the specifics of the law so as to influence the jury? Shouldn’t the jury be able to decide that justice would not be served by doing what the judge was obviously trying to persuade them to do?

    I realize that improper instructions would be grounds for appeal (if the defendant can afford it), but justice should not have to depend upon an appeal. By the way, I have never served on a jury where the judge gave improper instructions nor have I participated in jury nullification. But I believe the possibility of jury nullification is one thing that assures that the courts will continue to provide justice.

  22. Cbrtxus,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply on this important issue in such detail.

    Once again, though, your arguments rest largely on statements about the law which simply aren’t correct. In particular, you frequently base your arguments on legal concepts like “self-defense” and “citizen’s arrest,” but you don’t actually seem to know what these legal doctrines mean.

    For instance, I explained that a claim of self-defense would generally require a showing that Horn did not approach the men with a deadly weapon, and that he couldn’t have avoided the threat by staying indoors. And you dismissed this by saying that you didn’t believe these rules were “intended to deal with citizen’s arrest.”

    Whether Horn thought he was going to attempt a “citizen’s arrest” is not relevant. He killed two men, and cannot avoid a murder charge by claiming that he thought he was going to make a citizen’s arrest. He can try to mount a claim of self-defense, but there’s no special, more lenient version of self-defense for those intending to make a citizen’s arrest.

    The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (not the Penal Code) provides in Article 14.01(a) that private citizens may make arrests for certain serious offenses. (Trespassing, for instance, is not one of those offenses.) It provides no exception under which a citizen may kill another and not have to claim self-defense, or claim a different kind of self-defense.

    Similarly, you say that the “law relating to deadly force isn’t much different for a police officer as I understand it.” I’m afraid you don’t understand it, as the exact opposite is true. The laws relating to the use of deadly force are almost entirely different for a police officer, who is routinely required to put himself into potentially dangerous situations to protect the public. To be brief, citizens making arrests or using deadly force are generally held to a much higher standard, both in criminal law and with respect to civil liability for their actions.

    You make other, similar statements about the law which appear to have no legal basis. For example, you say that if Horn went outside without intending to kill the men, his actions would not be murder so long as he “was forced to use deadly force in response to an immentent threat of death or serious harm.” I don’t know where you came up with this idea, as this is simply not what the doctrine of self-defense says. My best guess is that you’re taking legal terms and descriptions of those terms for lay people, and attempting to reason from the everyday English meanings of those words to legal conclusions, without checking what these legal doctrines actually are.

    Finally, I doubt that you and I have “a totally different view of what the function of a jury of our peers should be.” In fact, I said nothing about my view of the role of juries in common law countries, beyond my statement of several simple facts and principles about jury trials.

    In fact, I strongly support the legal doctrine of jury nullification. But your statements about that concept don’t square with what it actually means. Without making this comment even longer by explaining the entire concept of jury nullification, I’ll simply note for now that it does not apply, nor is it intended to apply, to situations of “improper instructions” from a judge to a jury. Not even close.

    I really don’t mean to discourage you from talking about these issues. But I don’t think it helps, when people raise valid concerns about someone whose foolish and ill-informed actions have resulted in murder, for the response to incorrectly suggest that the person was within his legal rights.

    From the news reports, in fact, it may have been precisely such a foggy understanding of a person’s legal rights in Texas which encouraged Horn to step out of his home with a loaded weapon and shoot two fellow citizens to death.

  23. cbrtxus

    James, this is getting more and more awkward for me because I really don’t think that Mr. Horn should have attempted to stop those guys. It was a foolhardy act. I hate to find myself attempting to defend someone who behaved so stupidly. But based on what I know so far, I don’t think that Mr. Horn should be put in prison.

    It is possible that he went out in his yard intending to kill those two guys. If he did and he is not convicted, then he will have gotten away with murder.

    But it is also possible that his intention was only to stop them from escaping by making a citizen’s arrest. That action is fraught with danger—both physical and legal. Once out there he may have found that he was in the presence of the two felons and in very serious trouble. He might have been forced at that point to defend himself. If that was the case, then I don’t believe that it was murder.

    You said that the claim of self-defense would require showing that Mr. Horn did not approach the men with a deadly weapon and that he could not have avoided the threat by staying indoors. I don’t understand why that would be the case. I think that I know the section of the Penal Code that you are referring to but I don’t think that it addresses citizens arrest specifically.

    Article. 14.01 (a) of the Texas code of Criminal Procedure clearly says that “A peace officer OR ANY OTHER PERSON, may, without a warrant, arrest an offender when the offense is committed in his presence or within his view, if the offense is one classed as a felony or as an offense against the public peace.” It doesn’t required that the person making the arrest approach the felons unarmed and it does not require that the person retreat if possible. Mr. Horn had just observed the two men committing a burglary which I believe to be a felony offense. It appears that the section would apply to Mr. Horn.

    I never thought that Mr. Horn could avoid a murder charge simply because he was attempting a citizen’s arrest. But I do think that if Mr. Horn found himself in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured, he had the right to defend himself either under statute or under common law. I don’t think that attempting a citizen’s arrest would somehow strip Mr. Horn of that right. In the final analysis, won’t a Grand Jury or a trial jury have to decide whether Mr. Horn’s fear of being killed or seriously injured at that point was reasonable?

    Is it your position that the law does not allow a citizen who is in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured to defend himself?

    I should not have made such a general statement about police officers use of deadly force compared to that of a citizen. I was really thinking more specifically of Sections 9.41 and 9.42 of the Penal Code. And I am not suggesting that these sections necessary apply to Mr. Horn’s case.

    Sec. 9.41. PROTECTION OF ONE ’S OWN PROPERTY. (a) A person in lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.
    (b) A person unlawfully dispossessed of land or tangible, movable property by another is justified in using force against the other when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to reenter the land or recover the property if the actor uses the force immediately or in fresh pursuit after the dispossession and:
    (1) the actor reasonably believes the other had no claim of right when he dispossessed the actor; or
    (2) the other accomplished the dispossession by using force, threat, or fraud against the actor.

    Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:
    (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and
    (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
    (A) to prevent the other ’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
    (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and
    (3) he reasonably believes that:
    (A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or
    (B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

    Can a police officer use deadly force under all of those circumstances?

    It is my impression that an example of jury nullification would be a jury rendering a not guilty verdict based the evidence presented but in spite of and in conflict with the instructions by the judge concerning applicable law.

    I don’t think saying that Mr. Horn stepped out of his home with a loaded weapon and shot two “fellow citizens” to death is fairly stating the case. The fact that Mr. Horn had just witnessed those two “fellow citizens” committing a felony and that he was trying to prevent them from escaping with his neighbor’s property is not exactly irrelevant.

    As I mentioned before, I do find this conversation to be interesting. I appreciate seeing your comments.

    Best regards

  24. Cbrtxus,

    Okay, let’s try this again.

    First, I want to be clear that I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts in such detail. And I applaud your rejection of Horn’s behavior, and I’m trying to respect, if not agree with, your belief that what he did shouldn’t be against the law in Texas.

    Now, the first issue here is to understand that nothing in this case, including the possibility that a “citizen’s arrest” might have been involved, would exempt Horn from the laws against murder, nor from the specific rules necessary in order to invoke a claim of self-defense.

    You seem to believe that, because citizens may attempt an arrest in certain situations, they may respond with deadly force if they come into danger. The truth is that they may do so, no more or less than anyone else in any other situation, and only provided they meet the terms of the legal doctrine of self-defense (or some other provision of law which allows deadly force).

    So the law didn’t “strip Mr. Horn” of the right of self-defense because he thought he was making a private arrest. But it didn’t exempt him from it, either.

    (Before leaving the topic of citizen’s arrests, I would note in passing that, based on the facts I’ve seen, Horn had no right to make a private arrest in this particular case. Citizen’s arrests don’t apply to circumstances like these, at least not in Texas.)

    The second issue to address is that you seem to think that self-defense applies any time someone finds “himself in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured.” In fact, though, that’s merely a lay person’s brief summary of the doctrine; in fact, self-defense is a claim with several distinct elements, and all elements must be met.

    In a related vein, you write, “In the final analysis, won’t a Grand Jury or a trial jury have to decide whether Mr. Horn’s fear of being killed or seriously injured at that point was reasonable?”

    No, they would not. In the final analysis, the trial jury would have to decide whether all of the terms of the claim of self-defense had been met, not whether that simple summary of the doctrine had been met.

    Regarding your statements about police officers, you cite sections 9.41 and 9.42 of the Texas Penal Code, and ask “Can a police officer use deadly force under all of those circumstances?” Yes, a police officer most certainly can. Think of it this way: A police officer is a person, and there is no exception in those sections for police officers.

    Other provisions in the law, in fact, give police officers far greater latitude in the performance of their official duties. In general, private citizens may use force to defend themselves or their property, or make arrests, only in highly restrictive situations, and at great personal and financial risk.

    For instance, Horn was at great risk of facing criminal charges or civil liability in that situation, whereas a police officer would have been immune from such charges or claims except under very specific conditions.

    On the penal code section for private arrests, you say, “It doesn’t required that the person making the arrest approach the felons unarmed and it does not require that the person retreat if possible.”

    That’s entirely true, and so Horn did not violate any such rule for making a private arrest. But nowhere does the penal code allow a person in such a situation to employ deadly force, and if he kills a suspect, only the usual provisions of the law, including those on self-defense, can protect him.

    I just don’t know why you persist in arguing, without any basis, that the right to make a private arrest somehow must generate an exemption from the laws on force and self-defense.

    Finally, you object to saying that Horn shot “two fellow citizens,” because he suspected that the two men, in addition to being fellow citizens, were also criminals. And you say that the fact that he suspected them of committing a felony and wanted to stop them “is not exactly irrelevant.”

    However, under the law, those facts are entirely irrelevant to the issue of murder. Private citizens who attempt a “citizen’s arrest” take on far more liability for mistakes than the law imposes on law enforcement officers, and their use of deadly force is governed by the ordinary laws for private citizens.

    But I’d like to see us get away from the legal details. The real issues here, as I see them, are:

    (1) Why did Horn seem to mistakenly believe that such legal doctrines as self-defense, private arrest, or the so-called castle doctrine, would allow him to confront and kill these men without consequence?

    (2) Why did Horn’s erroneous belief that the law would protect him translate, into his mind, into the idea that he should actually do so?

    (3) If the two men were white, would Horn have been so convinced that they were guilty and deserved immediate execution at his hands?

  25. Damien

    I love the back and forth between you guys… the education of law is great! I love BLOGS!!
    Anyway, I can’t believe that you’re having a debate on this yet, I find it incredible and deserving of much respect. Sentinel, Cbrtxus, and James.
    I must say that if this guy was so afraid for his life, why would he go confront criminals, felons, burglars… in the fist place. They could have had guns too. Did Mr. Horn actually believe that he was gonna stop them just because he had a gun (which makes him so powerful)? My only conclusion is taht he was wanting some kind of fight.

    I guess in Mr. Horns mind he was gonna go out there and tell them to freeze and they were gonna do it and allow him to hold them at gun point til the cops came. DOUBT IT! Yeah, maybe in the movies.

  26. theblacksentinel

    cbrtxus & James,

    I agree with Damien the educational value of the banter is great. I find the interpretations of the laws that you guys are citing is great. If anyone comes and reads this blog it is no doubt they will learn a few things.

    Thanks!

  27. cbrtxus

    Sentinel, just when I think that I know what really happened, I see this in the Houston Chronicle yesterday. A Pasadena police officer witnessed the whole thing! I thought that you might not have caught it so I printed it below.

    This doesn’t look good for Mr. Horn. If one of the fellows ran towards him, he might be able to justify the shooting even if he hit him in the back. Having a witness will probably help him in that case. The officer said that they were very close to Mr. Horn. But if he shot at a guy that was running away, it would be very difficult if not impossible to justify the shooting. I cannot see how Mr. Horn will not be indicted now.

    I can’t say that I think that the death of those two predators is a loss to society. I think that we are all safer with them off the streets. But what is probably going to happen to Mr. Horn now is a tragedy.

    James, I appreciate your response. I’m kind of tied up right now but I will try to comment within a few days. I apologize for the delay. I wonder if we can narrow down our discussion. We are trying to address a lot of different subjects any one of which would be the basis of a good discussion.

    Damien, I appreciate your kind words. I’m sixty years old. A long time ago, my father impressed upon me the benefit of talking to and “brain picking” intelligent people. He also suggested that I not waste a bunch of time talking only to people that share my peculiar point of view. There is more to be learned by talking to people that disagree as long as the discourse remains courteous–which it has. I have met some nice folks here.

    The audio of Mr. Horn suggests that he was frustrated and outraged that the felons were apparently going to escape with their loot. Perhaps he did believe that he could do what John Wayne did in the movies. I guess the criminals had not seen the same movies. Mr. Horn did a very foolish thing and he may pay dearly for it.

    Best regards to all

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Dec. 9, 2007, 1:05PM

    Pasadena police say Horn shot 2 men in the back

    Both men were hit by shotgun blasts after entering Joe Horn’s front yard

    By CINDY HORSWELL and ROBERT STANTON
    Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

    The two burglary suspects killed by Pasadena homeowner Joe Horn were shot in the back after they ventured into his front yard, police disclosed Friday.

    In another twist, investigators revealed that a plainclothes Pasadena detective witnessed the Nov. 14 shootings after he pulled up in an unmarked car seconds before Horn fired three shots from his 12-gauge shotgun.

    The men, who had just burglarized Horn’s neighbor’s house, faced him from seven

    to 10 feet away when they ignored his order to “not move”or they would be dead, police said.

    The controversial shootings have outraged minority activists but also brought an outpouring of support for Horn.

    “We now have a summary documenting what we think happened,” said Capt. A.H.

    “Bud” Corbett. “We will turn it over to the district attorney in a couple of weeks after we do an extensive review for quality control.”

    The district attorney will then present the case to a grand jury to determine if any charges should be filed against Horn, 61, a computer consultant, who has claimed self-defense.

    The two men — Diego Ortiz, 30, and Hernando Riascos Torres, 48 — collapsed and died not far from Horn’s home on Timberline in a Pasadena neighborhood.

    Both were illegal immigrants from Colombia, authorities said. Torres had been deported to Colombia in 1999 after serving time for possession with intent to

    distribute cocaine. Both were also using fake identification cards and aliases, and their backgrounds are now being scrutinized by federal authorities to determine if they were part of a Colombian fake ID and burglary ring, authorities said.

    On Friday, Corbett described the shooting scenario that had been pieced together so far.

    According to a transcript of Horn’s 911 call, at 2 p.m., he became concerned that

    his next- door neighbor’s home was being burglarized after hearing some glass break.

    The dispatcher repeatedly urges Horn to stay in his house but Horn states that he doesn’t feel it’s right to let the burglars get away.

    “Well, here it goes, buddy,” Horn tells the dispatcher. “You hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”

    The dispatcher replies: “Don’t go outside.”

    Then the tape records Horn warning someone: “Move and you’re dead!” Two quick shots can be heard, followed by a pause and then a third shot.

    Corbett said the plainclothes detective, whose name has not been released, had parked in front of Horn’s house in response to the 911 call. He saw the men

    between Horn’s house and his neighbor’s before they crossed into Horn’s front yard.

    Corbett believes neither Horn nor the men knew a police officer was present.

    “It was over within seconds. The detective never had time to say anything before

    the shots were fired,” Corbett said. “At first, the officer was assessing the situation. Then he was worried Horn might mistake him for the ‘wheel man’ (get-away driver). He ducked at one point.”

    When Horn confronted the suspects in his yard, he raised his shotgun to his shoulder, Corbett said. However the men ignored his order to freeze.

    Corbett said one man ran toward Horn, but had angled away from him toward the street when he was shot in the back just before reaching the curb.

    “The detective confirmed that this suspect was actually closer to Horn after he initiated his run than at the time when first confronted,” said Corbett. “Horn said he felt in jeopardy.”

    Autopsy report

    The wounded man crossed the street, collapsed and died, authorities said. At the same time, the other man had turned and ran away from Horn.

    Horn swung his shotgun around after shooting the first man and fired at the second one after he entered the neighbor’s yard, investigators said.

    He was hit in the back but continued running until collapsing a few hundred yards down the street, Corbett said.

    According to a final ruling, Ortiz died of shotgun wounds to his neck and torso, said Ellie Wallace, an investigator at the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

    The report said that Torres died of shotgun wounds to his torso and upper left
    extremity.

    Wallace could not confirm whether the men were shot in the back, saying the autopsy report only indicated they were shot in the torso.

    Neither suspect was armed, but one had a “center punch,” a 6-inch pointed metal tool, in his pocket that might be used as a weapon, authorities said.

    Also, they were carrying a sack filled with more than $2,000 in cash and assorted jewelry believed taken in the burglary, police said.

    Self-defense claim Investigators believe a third person may have driven the men from Houston to the Pasadena neighborhood. Police could find no vehicle belonging to the pair parked
    in the area.

    On the 911 tape, Horn mentioned a new state law that allows residents to protect their own home from intruders.

    “This case is a little different,” Corbett said. “We’ll have to let the grand jury sort this one out.”

    Horn’s attorney, Charles T. Lambright, said his client fired in self-defense because he feared for his life.

    “One of them (suspects) moved and Joe thought he was coming towards him,”

    Lambright said. “They were in such close proximity (to Horn) that they could be on
    top of him in half a second.”

    The fact that a police officer witnessed the shooting but did not arrest Horn is further evidence that he acted in self-defense, he said.

    “You’ve got a trained police officer sitting there watching this, and he doesn’t

    arrest Horn,” Lambright said. “If the (plainclothes) officer thought it was not a

    righteous shooting, maybe the Pasadena Police Department would have arrested
    Mr. Horn for murder.”

    Civil rights activist Quanell X said he would step up the call for a murder indictment against Horn, and questioned whether the Pasadena police should investigate the case.

    Quanell X said the shooting should be handled instead by the Texas Rangers and the FBI.

    “I don’t trust the Pasadena Police Department,” he said. “Why are they just now releasing the fact that an undercover officer witnessed the whole thing? This case stinks.”

  28. Terence

    You can argue specifics all day and still never get to the heart of the matter.

    My home is more than the box in which I sleep. My home is my land, my community and my neighborhood. Yet there are those would limit my safety to my box. Shouldn’t I feel safe in my neighborhood too?

    Did these two criminals know that the house was empty? What if a teenager was home sleeping while the parents were working. What if the female teenager was raped, beaten, or even killed? What if it was your neighborhood, your house, your teenager? Would Joe still be the bad guy? No, you would say that the two men got what they deserved.

    Granted, stealing is a mistake we’ve all made, but breaking into another’s home crosses the threshold of mistake, into criminal.

    Unless you are clairvoyant, you cannot determine the intent of someone who is breaking and entering. If they commit to going that far, how much further will they go? Not uncommon is a convict’s criminal history that starts with theft, progressing to burglary, rape and ultimately, murder. These two were halfway up the ladder.

    Cops can’t be everywhere and criminals like this are banking on that fact. The post criminal act is to evade capture. If cops can’t be everywhere, there’s not much disincentive to crime. The consequence of death is a proven deterrent; however, if deterence is not achieved, it is at the very least, a quick and economical solution.

  29. theblacksentinel

    cbrtxus,

    Thanks this is much appreciated.

  30. theblacksentinel

    Terrence,

    That is the problem, we can speculate and play the what if game all day. At the end of the day there was no one home and that could be the reason this house was targeted. Also, where do you find that death is a deterrent? Don’t we give the death penalty to those that kill etc. and has that deterred or even put a dent in murder, I would have to say NO.

    Also, if this was a deterrent wouldn’t Mr. Horn have thought twice about going out and shooting two men, for he is not “clairvoyant” either and could be prosecuted and sentenced to the death penalty and it did not deter him. So I guess vigilante street justice isn’t a deterrent either.

    If people are going to start rationing out their own brand of justice then I am pretty sure that the criminals will just arm themselves better and maybe start stepping up their violence in association with their crime as well. So, all this does is escalate and exacerbate a pressing problem. Like I said there is a reason why the old west way of doing things had to go. You can’t control situations if the lay person is allowed to run roughshod over situations.

    When does your lack of safety spin off to having to preemptive shootings, well I THOUGHT he was going to do something. It is just a slippery slope that we can’t afford to go down. The problem is, that NO one was home and if they were then it would be for them to act to shoot the criminals as they are in imminent danger and need defending.

    Thanks for the reply.

  31. Terrence,

    I would just make one more thing explicit here, in response to your thoughtful remarks.

    You make much of the fact that these criminals could have done much worse than simply burglarizing a home. And of course that’s always a possibility.

    However, according to the news account above, they also might have turned out to be innocent citizens. The story states that Horn knew only that he’d heard the sound of breaking glass, thought it had come from his neighbor’s house, and worried that a burglary was in progress.

    This is hardly enough suspicion to point a gun at two men and shoot them dead before they can properly react. These two men could have been on his neighbor’s property for many legitimate reasons. This is why, for instance, the police are forbidden to shoot like that when they reach a scene.

    So I think the “what if” game definitely points away from deadly behavior like this. We don’t want summary execution of suspected burglars, on the theory that they might do worse, and at risk of taking innocent lives.

  32. Gerix

    I do not sympathize with Mr. Horn. One thing I learned while my parents were earning their CCW’s was you have the right to protect yourself, but only when no other options are available. If I were in that situation, I would not have gone outside. He was moving toward them, not away. Maybe he thought he was being proactive, but he left the safety of his house to confront the burglars. That does not sound like self defense.

    If I were afraid of them coming to my house next, I would have turned on the outside lights (I thought I read it was at night). They would then know they were being watched. I doubt they would try to break into a house if they knew the owner (who might be armed) is watching them.

  33. theblacksentinel

    Gerix,

    I agree that he shouldn’t be able to put himself in that extremely dangerous circumstance after being told NO, that he should then claim he feared for his life. It wasn’t as if he were protecting someone’s life, he was protecting someone’s material goods and that isn’t enough to put your self in danger.

  34. Gerix, I think that’s a great summary of the law of self-defense: “only when no other options are available.”

    And I don’t think Horn came anywhere close to meeting that standard. The audio tape makes clear that he went outside merely to stop the men from getting away, and that he planned to do so by shooting them, because he expected to be in danger once he stepped outside.

  35. attention criminals: if you go around casually breaking into people’s houses, you just might get shot. that’s common sense. if you live by the sword you die by the sword. i don’t agree that these guys should have DIED, but it makes perfect sense to me. STOP FUCKING ROBBING HOUSES YOU IDIOTS.

  36. theblacksentinel

    Mike,

    This sounds like a pretty ignorant comment as nobody here that I know of is “robbing” houses. So who exactly are you talking to? I hope that this isn’t some sort of blanket statement based on the personal attributes of the criminals involved in the case. So if you intend to reply here again please keep on point!

    Thanks for the reply.

  37. Mike, I think it makes perfect sense that if you’re going to rob a home, you might just get killed. It’s one of the risks you take, that you might be shot by a panicked homeowner or a rookie security guard, for instance.

    And I don’t hear anyone complaining about that, so I’m not sure who you think you’re yelling at.

    However, we don’t have summary, private executions for robbery in this nation. Which means that citizens are required to follow the law in using deadly force, and when they fail to do so, we should expect a public outcry — even if the victims are themselves alleged to be petty thieves.

    Your comment sounds to me as though you’re encouraging people to be flexible with the law when it comes to those they suspect of crimes — or at least that you’re not too worried if they are. If that’s not what you mean, then I’d welcome a clarification.

    Thanks,

    James

  38. HITLER

    HORN IS A MURDERER. HE SHOULD BE SACRIFICED TO THE gODS

  39. Hitler,

    I don’t know about any sacrifice to any gods. But Joe Horn is definitely a murderer and should be made to pay for his crimes like all other criminals who get caught red handed or red faced.

    Thanks for the reply.

  40. Okay, here’s my take on a few things. One thing that came out was that the neighbor who’s house was being burglarized had asked Joe Horn to watch the house for him. And given the vaguery of most laws, including Castle Doctrine laws, with all their little details that work from state to state, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it was speculated that as being in charge of said neighbor’s home, it was an extension of his own. Please enlighten me if those details are off on my part.
    As for the possibility of these guys being construction workers…what worker crawls out a window??? I’ve done work on houses and never had to use a window to exit. Nevermind the fact that if Mr Horn was watching the neighbors house, I think he might know of any “guests” that should be there.
    As for the confederate flag wearing supporters…blanking idiots! Why do all the kooks come out on these things???
    On Wild West being out of control with killings, yes there were a lot, and within a civilized society tht number would be considered even more outrageous, please remember that a lot of stories from the Wild West shootout days are more than a little exaggerated for as they say….”when printing the history about the truth versus the legend..always print the legend.”(paraphrased)
    I dont know if I look on Mr. Horn as a hero for what he did, but at the same time I see him as one who made crime reduce itself voluntarily in that neighborhood after this incident.
    I wont comment on race, or race-based speculation for this story since its too hard to tell the motivation beyond his intent to protect his neighbor’s possessions.

  41. Mike,

    I understand that you have never seen a construction worker go out a window. But I have! I had a guy working on my home and he went in and out the window three or four times because the door in the room they were working got jammed. Since he had to get things out of the room and come around and work on the door he came through the window. Now god forbid my neighbor decided he was stealing and shot him or his helper.

    Anyhow, the man (Joe Horn) said on tape that he was going out to kill them and then he did. That is NOT covered by any of the laws which are stated. So it doesn’t matter if he was left in charge of the mans property or not. You CAN NOT state that you are going to kill someone then carry that out and that act not be seen as premeditated murder. That is unless you are in Texas and the people you shoot don’t matter to most people.

    So unfortunately it is and will be seen as race based. The men were here illegally and that is all that matters. If he had shot two white men I think this situation would be looked at a lot differently.

    Thanks for the reply.

  42. I’m curious. Were the men killed in this robbery armed at the time of their death?

  43. Jay,

    They were NOT armed. They had bags of loot from the robbery only. So I don’t understand his supposed fear, when he was the only armed person against two unarmed men who were fleeing him when he shot them.

    Thanks for the reply.

  44. I’ve heard the tape. I hear him say, “Move and you’re dead” Then the shooting starts. I think there are a lot of answered questions in this case. Maybe we should ask the criminals what happened. Wait, we can’t they’re dead. So I get you’re point.

    On the other hand. I have a feeling this guy would have shot anyone breaking into the house, no matter their race. Perhaps the public outcry would be different if the race roles were reversed. I don’t know.

    In addition I think this is what the state of Texas wanted. No not to kill black people, but to send a message. If you commit a crime in Texas you just might get your justice Texas style from an irate homeowner.

  45. Jay,

    Long before he yells move your dead he is just talking with the 911 operator quoting him the law and the operator tells him that if he goes out there he could be hurt. He tells him that he won’t be by saying “you wanna bet.” Somewhere around there he says I’m gonna kill them. Then he continues arguing about going out with his gun. He was told several times NOT to go out and shoot them. He did it anyway.

    Also, I never said that the law was made for them to shoot black people because the fact is these fellows were not black. They were Hispanic. I am saying that the decision to not prosecute was based on the fact that these guys were undocumented people and of course minorities. If he had shot two white boys he would have been indicted. The way the legal system works shows me that.

    I am saying that the law is applied racially. Also, it is pretty known that a lot of white people will discount what other whites are doing as they will seriously monitor minorities in the same situation. You see that constantly with store security and cops with racial profiling. While a white person is robbing them blind they are following some black person around the store. And you know what that black person has been me plenty of times.

    Thanks for the reply.

  46. Hispanic? Okay. Also, I didn’t hear anywhere in the tape him say the words I’m gonna kill em. I did hear him say “you wanna bet”.

    He was told by the operator do not go out there. She didn’t say, “and kill anyone.” I listened to the whole tape, and read the transcript. There isn’t anything in there where he says I’m going to kill them. He does seem to have a conversation with himself, not knowing if they were armed or not, and says, I’m gonna shoot, I’m gonna shoot, after he determines that he doesn’t want to get shot himself. Perhaps it’s semantics but it is different to say I’m gonna shoot, and I’m gonna kill em.

    I agree that this is a terrible end to a situation that didn’t have to end this way. More over what would you say the solution is to the crime in the area if this law isn’t going to help, what will?

    What must be done before you will be on the side of the home owner rather than the side of the criminal.

  47. Jay,

    It is a staple repeat on the news. That seems to be the only part they play over and over right now. You might want to look at or read the unedited version. Because I have found two different versions but the one that was put out by the 911 has him saying just that. I have been following this story since it came out and he says it.

    Click here to see a CBS article with a transcript with him saying that he was going to kill them. I am sorry that is premeditated murder. And now that I read it again. He says that he just can’t let them get away etc.

    Who says the law isn’t going to help? The guy told him that the police were on their way. They still have to drive since we haven’t invented the transporter just yet. So you can’t decide to take the law into your own hands because the cops aren’t getting there fast enough. I can see holding them for the police. But when you shoot and kill them you are becoming judge and jury. You don’t have the right to make that decision. Even worse is the fact that he shot them in the back.

    He couldn’t be bothered with getting their license number or following them and getting information. No he had to kill them. If this is OK then where does it stop? Why can’t the person who has been raped by someone go and kill them? Why doesn’t the person who was mugged just pull out a gun and shoot the perpetrator? Because people are entitled to a trial and humane treatment under the law.

    It doesn’t matter if they are American or not, everyone is entitled to fair, humane treatment and a trial. We don’t just shoot people who are accused or or caught in the act of committing a crime. We left that back in the time of the old wild west.

    Thanks for the reply.

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